(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Providence Plantations for Two Hundred and Fifty Years: An Historical Review o fhte Foundation, Rise, and Progress of hte City of Providence"

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non- commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at http : //books . qooqle . com/| 



THE PENNSYLVANIA 

STATE UNIVERSITY 

LIBRARIES 





oogle 



Digitized by 



Google 



Digitized by 



Google 



Digitized by 



Google 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE 



Providence Plantations 



FOR 



250 YEARS. 



Digitized by 



Google 




FAMILIAR SCENES IN PROVIDENCE. 

1 . Market Square and South Water Street, showing Board of Trade and What Cheer Buildings, and County Court House. 

2. South Water Street, Crawford Street Bridge, Dyer Street, and View Down the Harbor. 

3. Weybosset Street, looking toward Westminster, with the Custom House and Post-Office Building on the right. 

4. Market Square Union Horse Car Station, Washington Row, and Westminster Street. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE 



PR6VIBCNGC PLANTATIONS 



FOR 



TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS. 



An Historical Review of the Foundation, Rise, and Progress 



OF THE 



GlTY OF PR0VIBENGE, 

With a Graphic Description of the City at the Present Time, and of its Industries, Commerce, Manufactures, 

Business Interests, Educational, Religious, and Charitable Institutions, Civic, Scientific, and 

Military Organizations ; also, Sketches of the Cities of 

NEWPORT AND PAWTUCKET, AND THE OTHER TOWNS of the STATE, 

For which Providence is the Commercial Centre, Together with an Account of the 



Celebration of the 



Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Providence, 

'Including the Oration by Chief-Justice Thomas Durfee, List of Organizations and Societies Participating, and Other Matters 

Connected therewith, being an Historical Souvenir of this Occasion. 




M/seti -tsocAA* 



ILLUSTRATED 



With Many Engravings of Historic Places, Old Buildings, and with Views Showing Present Appearance of Many of the Prominent 
Streets, Business Blocks, and Residences of the City; Engravings of Ancient and Notable Documents; Portraits of 
Mayors, Distinguished Governors, Eminent Statesmen and Divines, Military Heroes, and 
Prominent Citizens of Providence and the State. 



BY 



Welcome Arnold Greene, 



And a Large Corps of Writers. 



Providence, R. I.: J. A. & R. A. REID, Publishers and Printers. 

1886. 



Digitized by 



Google 




The Providence Plantations for Two Hundred and Fifty Years. 

BY 

WELCOME ARNOLD GREENE, 

ASSISTED BY 

Rev. WILLIAM H. FISH and ROBERT A. REID, 

AND THE FOLLOWING CONTRIBUTING WRITERS I 



Miss Katherine H. Austin, 
Miss Annie Campbell, 
Hon. Sidney Dean, 
Rev. H. W. Rugg, 
D. F. Hayden, 
George J. Shepley, 



Geo. A. Stockwell, 
Walter B. Frost, 
Albert C. Winsor, 
Courtlandt B. Dorrance, 
C. M. Barrows, 
Dr. George B. Peck, 



Dr. George D. Hersey, 
A. L. Kinkead, 
Wm. E. Browne, 
R. E. O'Neil, 
Frederick Rueckert, 
and others. 



ILLfelSTRATEB, 



Under the Supervision of JAMES A. REID, from Photographs by 
Francis Hacker, A. L. Bodwell, Leander Baker, Horton Bros., and others. 



designs by 



Schell & Hogan, New York. 
E. H. Garrett, Boston. 
Frank Myrick, Boston. 



Fred Schell, Philadelphia. 
A. L. Bodwell, Providence. 
John Becker, Boston. 



engravings by 



Russell & Richardson, Boston. 
Kilbuun & Cross, Boston. 
J. S. Con ant, Boston. 
Wm. J. Dana*, Boston. 
Geo. J. LaCroix, Boston. 



J. P. Murphy & Co., Boston. 
J. S. Foy, New York. 
B. P. Sperry, Providence. 
George T. Sutter, Providence. 
Crosscup & West, Philadelphia. 



Moss Engraving Co., New York. 



copyright by 

J. A. & R. A. REID. 

1886. 




Digitized by 



Google 



lNTR0BaGTI0N. 



The two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of these " Plantations" is an appropriate time to study the past 
and consider the present that we may plan wisely for the future. To furnish material aid in such study and consideration is the great 
object of the work submitted to the reader. 

It was expected that our late Mayor, the Hon. Thomas A. Doyle, would have furnished the preface to this volume, and as no 
person of the present generation has been more thoroughly identified with the growth and development of our city than he, there 
was a peculiar fitness in his issuing to the present and future citizens the introduction to the history which aims to record the passage 
of the city of his affection to and beyond the great bound of its two hundred and fiftieth anniversary. It was, however, otherwise 
decreed, and this duty has unexpectedly devolved upon the author. 

This work is a history of the development of the Providence Plantations, the settlement made by Roger Williams, with, inci- 
dentally, historical sketches of those in its neighborhood. Some of these settlements were crystallized under the Parliamentary Patent 
as the Colony of Providence Plantations, and known later under the charter of King Charles II., as Rhode Island and Providence Plan- 
tations, while others of them have been very lately added to our territory. The explanation of the name given in King Charles' 
Charter is found in the fact that at the time of its granting, and for one hundred years and more after, the island of Rhode Island in 
importance occupied the place of precedence that Providence has since assumed. It is to be remembered that the present State of 
Rhode Island was not settled as one corporate body, and therein lies a peculiarity of its career, to which history presents but few 
parallels. Small as it is, the state is a combination of three colonies, founded with entirely different aims by their respective pioneers, 
while still other portions of it were claimed for one hundred years or more by Plymouth and Massachusetts. 

The views of Williams and his associates at Providence differed widely from those of the Antinomian settlers of the island of 
Rhode Island, and it was far from the minds of either of these parties to unite in one commonwealth ; and still further from their 
thoughts was the consideration of a governmental union with the strange agglomeration of peculiar elements found in the Warwick 
Colony. The three infant states sympathized with each other as good neighbors, but not as members of the same community. 
When the persecution by " the New England League" forced them into one common mould, it was many years before they became 
homogeneous, and this fact must be borne in mind to explain many apparently strange episodes in the history of the combination. 

It has been no light task to give a consecutive narrative of the settlement, growth, and gradual development of the community* 
founded by Roger Williams. From the published works of Samuel G. Arnold, George W. Greene, William R. Staples, Henry C. 
Dorr, and many others who have written on Rhode Island and Providence history, much could be drawn, but much more that was 
needed to give sequence and fullness to the work could only be obtained by the study of original material, a great deal of which has 
till recently escaped the notice of historians. For aid and assistance in getting at new facts and in correcting erroneous impressions 
which had crept into common belief, and in some cases been printed in received works as facts of history, the author is indebted to 
the Hon. Joshua M. Addeman, Secretary of State ; to the authorities of the city of Providence ; to the Rhode Island Historical 
Society, and scores of its earnest members with whom he has come in personal relation in his researches ; to the Rhode Island 
Veteran Citizens' Historical Association and many of its individual members ; to John O. Austin, whose years of labor in compiling 
the Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island has placed at his disposal a greater mass of information in regard to the details of the 
early lives, habits, and possessions of the first settlers than any other person ever possessed ; to Fred A. Arnold, whose knowledge 
of the early Indian deeds and subjects connected therewith is unsurpassed ; to James N. Arnold, editor of the Narragansett His- 
torical Register; to the Rhode Island Historical Magazine, of Newport, R. H. Tilley, editor ; and to scores of individual inves- 
tigators, of whom to name one without naming all would seem to be invidious. 

In the presentation of the description of the Providence of to-day the author has relied mainly upon the aid of the able corps 
of assistants to whom has been assigned the completion of the different portions of that section of the work. The sketches of the 
various towns of the state are necessary to supplement that of the Plantations, in which attention is given to describing the growth 
of the general community, without special regard to its effect upon each town. 

We are now apparently entering upon ah era of civic and material improvement, compared with which the advance made in 

the last two hundred years must seem to the future historian but as a step in our career. What has been done is in the past, — 

fixed and immutable, — what is to be done is uncertain, and, under God's providence, depends largely upon ourselves and our 

successors. The author's duty to the community is performed in showing its present state of development and the causes that led to 

it, leaving to future writers to continue the history. It is believed that every reader will find in this work much information that 

is new, interesting, and valuable, presented in such a manner that its perusal will afford pleasure, while the general history of the 

community will be indelibly fixed in his mind. 

Welcome Arnold Greene. 



403143 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Publishers' Nqte. 



The objects to be accomplished by the publication of this volume have been : to produce an appropriate work to com- 
memorate the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Providence Plantations ; to make a popular work, 
at once attractive and inexpensive, with edition so large that all who desire may obtain copies; to so portray the past that 
all may profit by a more intimate knowledge thereof; to so represent the present that this 'generation may become better 
acquainted with what is now transpiring in our midst, and to enable our successors to form a correct estimate of the stage of 
development reached in religious, social, civic, and industrial matters at this period of our history. 

The work has grown far beyond anticipation, causing greatly increased expense in its publication, but it is the belief 
of the publishers that it will thereby the more successfully accomplish the objects intended, and increase its value with the public. 

The publishers have met with the support of that class in the community which has had most to do with the upbuilding 
of the industries of the state, but for which the volume could not be placed in so many thousands of our homes, to be a source 
of untold pleasure and useful knowledge, nor distributed to so great an extent to Rhode Islanders and others throughout our 
common country. 

The Publishers. 



Digitized by 



Google 



CONTENTS. 



PART FIRST. 



CHAPTER I. 
Arrival of Roger Williams at Providence, 1636, . 21 

Providence Plantations a wilderness — Roger Williams, his arrival 
in Massachusetts Bay Colony — Settlement at Salem — Persecu- 
tion — Removal to Plymouth — Return to Salem — Renewed per- 
secution — Driven into the wilderness — Settlement at Seekonk 
Cove — Notified to quit — Canoe voyage to mouth of Moshassuck 
River — Builds his wigwam — Ascends to summit of Prospect 
Hill — What he saw thence. 

CHAPTER II. 
The Aboriginal Dwellers in the Land, 1636, . 24 

General characteristics of the Indians — Personal appearance — Re- 
ligious beliefs — Morality — Hospitality — Government — Prop- 
erty rights — Houses — Clothing — Arts and business charac- 
teristics — Wampum money — Treatment of sick — Sports. 

CHAPTER III. 
Early Development of Providence, 1636-1644, . 27 

Details of settlement — Scheme of lot ownership — Poverty of set- 
tlers — Negotiations with Indians — Home life — Verin episode 

— Development of colony — Blackstone and Williams — Anti- 
nomians and their settlement at A quid neck — Difficulties and 
questions of jurisdiction — Birth of Providence Williams — For- 
mation of First Baptist Church — First attempt at representa- 
tive government — Samuel Gorton — His experience at Ports- 
mouth — At Providence — At Pawtuxet — At Shawomet — At 
Boston — Situation of Providence in winter of 1642-3 — Neces- 
sity of a charter — Roger Williams goes to England — Obtains 
a charter — Narragansett patent of Massachusetts Bay — Analy- 
sis of charter — Return of Williams — His reception by citizens 
of Providence. 

CHAPTER IV. 

Providence under the First Charter, 1644-1663, . 33 

Situation of colony in 1644 — Claims of rival colonies —Division 
among the colonists — Dutch traders — The Indian question — 
Treatment of Indians by whites — The United Colonies of New 
England — Sketch of Indian War — Peace negotiated by Roger 
Williams — Home-life in the town — Grist-mill — Adoption of 
charter — Warwick admitted — Organization of government — 
Death of Canonicus— Coddington's movement — Gold mine ex- 
citement — Act of oblivion — Town charter of Providence — Ter- 
ritorial quarrels — Coddington's new charter — Appeal to Eng- 
land — Hugh Bewitt's trial — Coddington's charter vacated — 
New jealousies — Letter of Henry Vane — Act of town for 
"peace's sake" — Prison and stocks — Williams and Harris con- 
troversy — Pawtuxet matter settled — Providence protects Qua- 
kers — Claims against the colony newly pressed — Providence 
appeals to the king — Dr. John Clarke — He obtains a charter — 
Wampum abolished — Real estate titles settled — Wapweyset 
Bridge — New meaning to Providence Plantations. 

CHAPTER V. 

The Continued Development, Destruction, and Res- 
titution of Providence, 1 663-1 701, ... 39 
Synopsis of King Charles' Charter — Boundary disputes — Votes 
sent to Newport — Town developments, mills, etc. — War alarms 

— Town-meeting feud — Treasurer's report in 1667 — Roger 
* Williams a toll-keeper — His poverty — Roger Williams and the 

Quakers — No time-piece in the colony — Calm before the storm 



— King Philip's War — Narragansett Swamp fight — Prep- 
arations for contest — Peirse fight — Nine Men's Misery — Burn- 
ing of Providence —Waiting — Capture and death of Canonchet 

— Fate of the Narragansetts — Town-meeting, 1676 —Return 
of refugees — Rebuilding town — Harbor developments begun — 
Fast riding forbidden — Advent of luxuries — Slow growth of 
town — Death of Roger Williams — Ascension of King James — 
Rule of the Council — Rule of Andros — Fall of Andros — Pay- 
ment of taxes — Small-pox — Phipps embroilments — First post- 
office — Town unable to elect officers — Prison excitement — 
Stocks — Inns — Fairs — Watch for Indians — Privateers and 
pirates — North Burial-Ground — Providence regains its rank 
in the colony — Evolution of land titles in Providence CouDty. 

CHAPTER VI. 

The Colonial Growth of Commercial Providence, 

1 701-1760, . 48 

Review of situation of colony and town — Life of inhabitants — 
First houses for religious worship — Division of colony — Queen 
Anne War — Tax receipt prices — Development of shore west of 
town street — Reservation of ford and swimming-place to Wey- 
bosset — First issue of paper money — Expedition against Port 
Royal — First Weybosset Bridge— Ship building— The " banks " 

— Providence protests against paper currency — Bounties on 
wolves, etc. — Separation of "proprietor's government " from 
" town government M — First Congregational Church and King's 
Church organized — Burning ague — Roads — Removal of Wey- 
bosset Hill — House statistics, 1732 — Paper currency from 1715 
to 1850 — Governor Jencks — Veto power — First county-house 

— Population in 1730 — First church bell — Set-off of Smithfield, 
Glocester, and Scituate — Mill Bridge built — Improvements in 
Charlestown and at north end — Schools -— Early physicians — 
Condition of streets — Fuller's Ferry — War against Spain — 
Beneficent Church — Weybosset Bridge improved — War with 
France — Population — Suffrage — Growth of town — Benefit 
Street — County work-house — First public library — Crans- 
ton set off — Postal system — Destruction of county house 
and public library — Early fire department — Johnston set off — 

— Fir6t street pavements — Weybosset Bridge carried away 
by a gale — Expeditions against Canada — New county house 

— First printing office — First theatre in New England — First 
newspaper in Providence — Lottery to fill up Westminster 
Street — Brass foundry — Town council first meets on west 
side of the river — The two brick houses in town — Losses of 
Seven Years' War— Ward-Hopkins controversy — Result of pa- 
per currency. 

CHAPTER VII. 

Providence During the Struggle with England and 
the Reorganizing Period, i 763-1 790, . . 56 

Providence in 1763 — Comparative increase — General Assembly on 
taxation — Stamp act — North Providence set off — Po6t-Office 
removal to Shakespeare Head — Further taxation — Sons and 
Daughters of Liberty — Liberty tree — First stage line to Boston 
— Attempted town of Westminster — Post-Office at Market Square 

— First restaurant — First free school — Origin of Brown Univer- 
sity — Law of primogeniture changed — Streets in 1771 — First 
Providence water works— " Ga«pee" affair — Bitterness against 
England — Town market building — First Baptist meeting-house 

— Providence first to advise a Continental Congress — Popula- 
tion in 1774 — Prepaiations for the coming contest — Lexington 
— Rhode Island's Tory governor — Preparations for defense and 
aiding the patriot cause — General Washington's first visit to 
Providence — Little Rhody the first state to declare her independ- 



Digitized by 



Google 



12 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



ence — Providence and the Rhode Island and United States 
Navies — Commodore Whipple — Commodore Hopkins — Pri- 
vateering — " At bay " — General Greene — Lieutenant-Colonel 
Ward — Providence during the war — Suffering — Depreciation 
of currency — Providence and Newport — Cold-cut nails first 
made — Capture of General Prescott— Battle of Rhode Island 

— Evacuation of Rhode Island by British — Dark day — Cap- 
ture of Yorktown — Peace — Results of war on Providence — 
Flood — Currency questions — Bank of 1786 — Contest over 
adoption of Constitution of United States — Manufacturing 
prior to 1790 — Bowen Street and the Roger Williams home 
lot. 

CHAPTER VIII. 
Providence Closes its Career as a Town, 1790-1832, 67 

Changes 6ince 1763 — Mail facilities — Shipping — Providence Bank 

— First steamboat — New bridges — Town house — New streets 

— Valuation in 1796 — Fir&t dentist — Yellow fever — Water 
Street — Night watch — Free Masons and town market building 

— Suffrage — Free schools — Insurance — India Point in 1800 — 
Great fire in 1801 — First map of Providence — Naming of 
streets — Flood of 1807 — Town in 1808 — Whipping-post — 
Population, etc., in 1810 — Drifting into war — Patriotic action 
of town — Oliver Hazard Perry on Lake Erie — Manufacturing 
taking the place of foreign commerce — Improvement in means 
of communication — First Congregational meeting-house de- 
stroyed — Blockade — Preparations for defense — Irishmen's day 

— Peace — September gale, 1815 — New Weybosset Bridge — 
Stages — Providence to New York in two days — Steamer " Fire- 
fly" — President Monroe's visit — The elephant — Fish market 

— Institution for Savings — Population and business in 1820 — 
New era in business buildings — Street lighting — Shipping — 
Sidewalk committee and their work — Steamer to New York — 
Removal of snow — Smoking on the streets prohibited — Direc- 
tory and map — Attempts to form a constitution — Ebenezer 
Knight Dexter — Blackstone Canal — Its effect on Providence — 
Second great fire — Babcock engines — New markets — Monu- 
ment to Roger Williams — Temperance movement — Arcade — 
Washington Insurance Company Bridge — Stages, railroads, etc. 

— Anthracite coal and wood fuel — City charter proposed and 
lost — Olney Street riots — City charter granted and adopted — ^ 
End of the town of Providence. 

CHAPTER IX. 

The Growth of the City of Providence in 

Times of Peace, 1832-1860, .... 78 

Providence in 1832 — Anti-Masonic excitement — No legal govern- 



ment — Attempt at a new constitution — Boston & Providence 
Railroad — New York, Providence & Boston Railroad — Use of 
Anthracite coal to develop steam — Tristam Burges — Literary 
career of Providence — Franklin Society — Rhode Island His- 
torical Society — Franklin Lyceum — Libraries — Athenaeum — 
High School — Evening schools — Theatres — County jail — 
Weybosset Bridge — Population in 1841 — Constitutional efforts 

— " People's" party — "People's" constitution — Landholders' 
constitution — Nominal election of Thomas W. Dorr — "Dorr 
War" — Attack on the Arsenal — Dorr in Connecticut — Acote's 
Hill affair — End of " Dorr War " — Casualties of the "war" 

— New constitution adopted — Fate of Thomas W. Dorr — His 
trial and its result — Providence & Worcester Railroad — Build- 
ing of Exchange Place, the central passenger depot, and the 
Cove — Providence, Hartford & Fishkill Railroad — Telegraphs 

— Growth of Providence — Gas works — Butler Hospital — 
Swan Point— Business buildings and private houses — Change 
in commercial relations — Know-nothing excitement — Provi- 
dence, Warren & Bristol Railroad — Panic of 1856-7 — Back Cove 
lands — Fire department — Attempts to introduce municipal 
water works — Introduction of steam fire-engines — General 
prosperity. 

CHAPTER X. 

Providence During and Since the War of the 

Rebellion, 1860-1886, 89 

Providence in i860 — Political s:tuation of its inhabitants, national 
and local — The Sprague-Padelford campaign — The end of vote- 
buying in Providence — The national political campaign of i860 

— Results of the same — Waiting — Secession and its effects on 
Providence — Firing on Fort Sumter — The participation of 
Providence in the uprising of the North — The raising of troops 
for the contest for the nation's existence — Regiments and bat- 
teries raised in Providence — Boundary controversies settled — 
Horse-car system introduced — Further raising of regiments — 
End of the war — Peaceful development — Schools — Water 
supply — Increase of territoral limits — New bridges — Roger 
Williams Park — Soldier's monument — Introduction of water 

— Business buildings — Further annexations — Brook Street im- 
provements — ** Sprague failure" and its results — Crawford 
Street Bridge — New school-houses — Libraries — County Court 
House — Providence in 1880 — Boundary lines — Railroad ter- 
minal facilities — Various plans — New schools — Homoeopathic 
Hospital — Providence in 1885 — Preparing for the 250th Anni- 
versary — Death of Mayor Thomas A. Doyle — Tabular state- 
ment of growth of population of Providence, 1636-1886 — Busi- 
ness development in same period. 



PART SEGQNB. 



CHAPTER I. 

The City Government of Providence, . . 101 

First town-meetings — Places of holding them — The City Hall — 
Terms of service of officials — Duties of the mayors — Past 
mayors — Sketches of lives of the mayors — Presidents of the 
board of aldermen — City clerks — Presidents and clerks of the 
common council — City treasurers — Surveyors of highways — 
Highway commissioners — Water commissioners — City au- 
ditors — City solicitors — Judges and clerks of municipal court — 
Superintendents of lights — Inspectors of buildings — Fire mar- 
shals — Public administrators — Justices of the police court — 
City sergeants — City messengers — Overseers of the poor — 
Board of public works — City engineers — Collectors of taxes — 
City registrars — Superintendents of health — Chiefs of the fire 
department. 



CHAPTER II. 

The City Government. — Continued, . . . 113 

* The Providence police force — First police regulations of the town 

— Officers of police first appointed — First night watchmen — 
Permanent organization of night watchmen, their duties, etc. — 
Police station on Market Square — The war watch of 181 2-' 15 — 
Changes in the night watch — The old town house as the police 
station — The city watch organized — Changes in the latter till 
1848 — First badges worn — Day police organized — Night watch 
in two districts — In five — Headquarters removed to Canal 
Street — Reorganization of police system under Mayor Doyle 

— Chief of police — Uniforms — Later changes and additions — 
List of city marshals — Chiefs of police — Present organization 
of the department and complete list of its officers and members 

— Providence Police Association — Its origin, organization, 
objects, and condition in 1886. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



*3 



CHAPTER III. 

The City Government — Continued, 

The Providence Fire Department — The first firemen — Early rules 
and regulations — First fire-engines — First suction engines — 
Hvdraulion No. 1 — Formation of first volunteer companies — 
The Hydraulion No. 1, second engine — First force-pumps — 
First hook and ladder company — Chief engineers — Roster of 
Fire Department for 1885-6 — Notable fires in Providence — 
Veteran Fireman Association — List of members. 



CHAPTER IV. 
Early and Modern Transportation Facilities, 

The Indian paths — Indian canoes — Early sloops — Roger Wil- 
liams' pinnace — The first ferry — First stage lines — Early coast 
lines — Toll bridges and turnpikes — The first steamboat — Early 
steamboating — Height of stage coach period — The Blackstone 
Canal — The beginning and development of the railroad era — 
Theexpress business — Building of the Central or Union Depot 

— Furniture wagons and low-gears — The omnibus period — The 
horse-car system — Union Railroad Company — The Providence 
Post-Office — Sketches of the great transportation companies 
connecting with Providence — The Providence and Boston Rail- 
road — The New York, Providence and Boston Railroad — The 
Providence and Worcester Railroad — The Providence and 
Springfield Railroad — The New York and New England Rail- 
road — The Providence, Warren and Bristol Railroad — The 
Providence, Norfolk, West Point and Baltimore line of Steamers 

— The Winsor Line — The Providence Line — The Fall River 
, Line — The Continental Steamboat Company. 



127 



CHAPTER V. 
The Religious Life of Providence. 

The organization of the First Baptist Church — Historical sketches 
of the Central, the Union, and other Baptist Churches — The 
Quakers — The First Congregational (Unitarian) Society — The 
other Unitarian Churches — The Beneficent, the Central, the Un- 
ion, and other Congregational Churches — St. John's Church, 
Grace, St. Stephen's, and other Episcopal Churches — The Meth- 
odist Churches — The First and Second Universalist Churches — 
The Presbyterian Churches — Churches of the other Denomi- 
nations — The Free Religious Society — Sunday School Super- 
intendents' Union — The Baptist Superintendents* Union —The 
Methodist Social Union. 



CHAPTER VII. 

118 Development of Educational Interests in Provi- 
dence, 161 

First schools — William Turpin, the fin>t school-master — The 
Stamper's Street School — Proprietors' schools — The Whipple 
Hall School — Brown University — The Revolutionary period 

— Presidents of the University — Nicholas Brown — The oldest 
surviving professor — Public schools organized — John How- 
land — First school committee — Roll of teachers in public 
schools — Evening schools — Reform school — Normal School — 
School for the deaf — School of Design — Friend's School — 
The Bryant & Stratton Business College — The Berkeley School 

— Other prominent schools of the city. 

CHAPTER VIII. 

The Military and Grand Army Organizations of 

Providence., 177 

Early organizations — The United Train of Artillery — The First 
Light Infantry — The Providence Marine Corps of Artillery — 
The Slocum Light Guard — The Providence Horse Guards — 
The Burnside Guards, Fourth Battalion — The Fifth Battalion of 
Infantry — The Meagher Guards — The Emmet Guards — Wolfe 
Tone Guards — The reorganization of the militia — Roster of 
the state militia — Number of troops furnished by Rhode Island 
during the War of the Rebellion — Battles in which Rhode Is- 
land troops were engaged — The Grand Army of the Republic 

— Its organization — The posts of the city — Prescott Post — 
Slocum Post — Rodman Post — Ives Post — Arnold Post — the 
Roster of the posts of Rhode Island — The Soldiers' Monument 
with its Roll of Honor. 

CHAPTER IX. 



«43 



CHAPTER VI. 
The Religious Life of the City — Continued, 

The early Catholic Church in Rhode Island — Early missionary 
work —The first Catholic Church in Newport — The first 
Catholics in Providence — The first regular priest for Provi- 
dence — Bishop Fenwick — In 1830 Catholics number 1,000 in 
the city — Formation of the Hartford Diocese — Bishop Tyler 

— Lives of the Bishops of the Diocese, Tyler, O'Reilley, Mc- 
Farland and Hendricken — June, 1886, Bishop Hendricken es- 
timates Catholic population of Providence 50,000 — The New 
Cathedral — Description of the edifice — Historical sketches of 
Catholic Churches of the city — St. Patrick's — St. Mary's — St. 
Joseph's — Church of the Immaculate Conception — St. Mi- 
chael's — St. Edward's — St. John the Evangelist's Church — 
Church of the Assumption — St. Charles Borremeo (French) 

— Holy Name — St. Theresa's — Society of St. Boniface (Ger- 
man) — Our Lady of the Rosary (Portuguese) — St. Augustine's 
Church Society (colored) — Italian Catholics — The Religious 
Orders and Societies connected with the Church — Sisters of the 
Order of Mercy — St. Aloysius' Orphan Asylum — St. Xavier's 
and St Mary's Academies — Little Sisters of the Poor — Acad- 
emy of the Sacred Heart — Sisters of Charity — Society of Ursu- 
line Nuns — St. Vincent de Paul's Benevolent Society. 



Secret and Benevolent Organizations, . . 201 

The Free Masons— The Odd Fellows — Knights of Pythias — 
Knights of Honor — Knights and Ladies of Honor — American 
Legion of Honor — Royal Arcanum — The Order of Elks — The 
Royal Society of Good Fellows — Ancient Order of United 
Workmen —German Benevolent Life Association — The Alfred- 
ians — The Ancient Order of Foresters — Caledonian Socie- 
ties—The Order of Scottish Clans — The Beneficial Order of 
Lucilius — The United Order of the Golden Cross — Order of 
the Harugari — B'Nai B'Rith— Free Sons of Israel —Sons of 
Benjamin — The colored Free Masons — The colored Odd 
Fellows. 

CHAPTER X. 

**** Institutions and Societies for the Advancement 

of the Welfare of the People, . . . 208 

The Rhorie Island Hospital — The Butler Hospital— The Public 
Library — The Athenseum — The Rhode Island Society for the 
Encouragement of Domestic Industry — The Association of Me- 
chanics and Manufacturers — The Franklin Society — The Board 
of Trade — The Mechanics' Exchange — The Commercial Club 

— The Commercial Travelers' Association — The Butcher's and 
Marketmen's Association — Rhode Island Historical Society — 
The Veteran Citizens' Historical Association — Society of the 
Cincinnati — The Franklin Lyceum — The Brownson Lyceum — 
The Narragansett Boat Club —The Rhode Island Peace Society 

— The Rhode Island Horticultural Society — The Roger Wil- 
liams Monument Association — The Roger Williams Savings 
Fund and Loan Association — Providence Marine Society — 
The Home for Aged Men — Society for the Prevention of Cruelty 
to Children — Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 
— Charitable Fuel Society — Providence Lying-in Hospital — 
Providence Mutual Health Association — The Rhode Inland 
Temperance Union — The Temple of Honor— The Sons of 
Temperance — The Good Templars — Good Samaritans. 



Digitized by 



Google 



*4 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



CHAPTER XI. 



Women's Work, 



220 



Early pioneer life of women in Rhode Island — Daughters of Lib- 
erty — Introduction of the straw braiding industry by Betsey 
Metcalf — Farmers' daughters in the early cotton factoiies — 
Charitable organizations conducted by women — The Female 
Charitable Society — Society for the Relief of Indigent Women 
and Children — Children's Friend Society — The Shelter for 
Colored Children — Home for Aged Women — The Irrepressi- 
ble Society — Women's Christian Association — Women's City 
Missionary Society — Prisoner's Aid Association — Rhode Is- 
land Homoeopathic Association — Women's Christian Temper- 
ance Union — Young Women's Christian Temperance Union — 
Exchange for Women's Work — Society for Ministry to the 
Sick — Indian Aid Association — Women's Educational and In- 
dustrial Union — The Woman's Club — The Montefiore Benevo- 
lent Association — The Florence Nightingale Association — 
Ward Relief Associations — Women's committees on the Cen- 
tennial and New Orleans expositions — Authoresses and writers 
— Betsey Williams' gift to the people. 

CHAPTER XII. 
Secular Professions in Providence, . . . 226 

The Providence Bar — Roll of the Profession — The Rhode Island 
Medical Society — List of Fellows of the Society —The Provi- 
dence Medical Association — The Providence Clinical Club — 
The Rhode Island Homoeopathic Society — List of Fellows of 
the Society — The Providence Dispensary — The Dentists — 
The Artistic Element in Providence — The Art Club — The 
Musical Societies — The Arion Club — The Rhode Island Choral 
Association — The St. Cecilia Choral Union— The Orpheus 
Club — The Leiderkranz — The American Band — Other in- 
strumental musical organizations. 



CHAPTER XIII. 
Banking and Banks in Providence, Past and Present, 235 

The earliest articles that constituted legal tenders — Spanish money — 
First paper money — Early" banks" for circulation of *» scrip " — 
Depreciation of Colonial money before the Revolution — " Con- 
tinental " money — Era of state banks — The roll of the banks of 
the state — National Banks — Origin of the savings banks — 
The savings banks of the state — Sketches of the Old Provi- 
dence Bank and other banks in Providence — Sketches of the 
savings institutions — The Rhode Island Hospital Trust Com- 
pany — The Private Bankers. 



CHAPTER XIV. 
The Manufacturing Interests of the State, . 241 

Manufacturing in early colonial days — Manufacturing branches 
introduced previous to the Revolutionary War — During the 
Revolutionary period — Introduction of power spinning — Sam- 
uel Slater — Print works — Introduction of the factory system 

— Woolen manufacturing — Introduction of the power loom — 
Extent of cotton and wool manufacturing in 1815 — Introduc- 
tion of steam as a manufacturing motor — Cotton manufactur- 
ing statistics — Steam engine manufacturing, origin, and devel- 
opment — Increase of machine shops foundries and tanneries 
The screw industry — Rubber goods — Stove founding — Files 

— Modern woolen industry — Brick, gas, boots, and shoes, 
ready-made clothing, hair cloth, and other modern indus- 
tries — Families prominent in the development of these indus- 
tries — The Browns and Brown & Ives — The Slaters — The 
Spragues — The Grosvenors — The Knights — The Fletcher 
Manufacturing Company — Other noted names in the manufac- 
turing history of the state — Charles Fletcher — The American 
Multiple Fabric Company— The Providence Dyeing, Bleaching 
and ^Calendering Company — Town classification of textile 
manufactories — H. L. Aldrich. 



CHAPTER XV. 
Great Iron Industries of the City, . . . 257 

Steam engine builders — The Corliss Steam Engine Company 
— The Providence Steam Engine Company — William A. Har- 
ris — The Armington & Sims Engine Company — George M. 
Cnrickshank — The great machinery manufactories and kin- 
dred industries — The Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Com- 
pany — The Providence Machine Company — The American 
Screw Company — The Providence Steam and Gas Pipe Com- 
pany — The Phenix Iron Foundry — The American Ship Wind- 
lass Company — The Corliss Safe Manufacturing Company — 
Tne Nicholson File Company— J. & T. Hope — The House- 
hold Sewing Machine Company — Stillman White. 



CHAPTER XVI. 
Important Special Manufacturers, . . . 273 

The Gorham Manufacturing Company — Ladd Watch Case Com- 
pany — Rumford Chemical Works — The Kendall Manufactur- 
ing Company — The Union Oil Company — Perry Davis & 
Son — Rice & Hayward — Davol Rubber Company — The 
Heaton Button Fastener Company. 



CHAPTER XVII. 
Some of the Heavy Lines of Trade, . 



• 283 



Coal, oil, and iron merchants — Hardware dealers — Dealers in 
lumber and building material — Makers of and dealers in 
manufacturers' supplies. 

CHAPTER XVIII. 
The Various Channels of Food Supply, . . 290 

Early commerce of the city — An arrival of the " Ann and Hope" 

— The wholesale grocers — Flour and grain dealers — Provision 
and dressed beef dealers — Fruits and vegetables — Condiments, 
etc. 

CHAPTER XIX. . 

The Great Dry Goods, Clothing, and Furniture 
Houses, and Retailers of the City, . . 295 

The dry goods and cloth houses — The great clothiers — Hatters 
and outfitters — Shoe dealers — Furniture and house furnishings 

— Musical instruments — Photographers — Picture framers — 
Retailers of jewelry. 

CHAPTER XX. 
Mercantile, Professional, and Mechanical Pur- 



suits, 



309 



CHAPTER XXI. 



The Newspapers, Printing Houses, Booksellers, 
Newsdealers, Paper Dealers, and Kindred 
Branches in Providence, . . . . 318 

CHAPTER XXII. 

The Wholesale Drug Dealers and Pharmacists 
of the City, 



325 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



The Manufacture of Jewelry and Kindred Lines 
in Providence, .,,,,,. 331 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



*f 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

The Insurance Interests of the City, 

Origin and history of the marine policy — Individual under- 
writing in London and formation of "Lloyds*' — First fire in- 
surance offices — First American offices — Individual underwrit- 
ing in the colonies — Oldest individual policy in the United 
States — Individual underwriting in Providence — John Mason's 
insurance office — The first Providence offices — Quaint features 
of the business — Lottery insurance — Commencement and ex- 
tension of the agency business — Rhode Island life and acci- 
dent insurance companies — Inception and organization of the 
manufacturers' mutual system by Zachariah Allen — Extension 



of the system — Later Rhode Island fire and marine companies 
and organization of the state insurance departments — Effect of 
345 the great Chicago and Boston fires on home offices — Receipts 

of life and fire companies in the state from 1861 to 1865 — Tariff 
associations — Providence protective department. 

CHAPTER XXV. 

The Homes of Providence — Societies for Promo- 
tion of Church and Home Influences — Hotels — 
Clubs — Restaurants — Theatres — Parks and 
Cemeteries, 355 



PART THIRB. 



CHAPTER I. 

Members ok the State Government of Rhode Island for 1886, with Sketches of the Lives of all past 

Governors, . . . . ; ... 362 



PART fQfclRm 



CHAPTER I. 

Pawtucket, North and East Providence, Lincoln, 
and Cumberland, . 375 

Pawtucket — Its early settlers and their industries — The Slaters 
— The Jencks — The Wilkinsons — The first minister and first 
doctor — The city government — The city churches — Promi- 
nent business enterprises of Pawtucket — North Providence — 
Industries of the people — East Providence — First settlement 

— The Revolutionary period — The boundary dispute — Shore 
resorts — Lincoln and Cumberland — Blackstone and the Indians 

— The Whipples of Cumberland — Early industries — The 
Blackstone Canal — Recent manufactures in the towns. 



CHAPTER II. 

Woonsocket, North Smithfield, Burrillville, 

Glocester, and Smithfield, .... 393 

Woonsocket — Its early territorial limits — The water-power of 
the Blackstone — The first bridge — Early manufactories — The 
Harris Institute Library — Free schools — Business enterprises 

— North Smithfield — Early territory — Early settlers — Indus- 
tries — Burrillville — Early settlers — Manufactures of the town 

— Places of interest in the town — Population — Wm. Tinkham 
& Co — Harri8ville Mill — Glocester — Its population — Early 
and recent industries — Large ponds of the town — Smithfield — 
First town-meeting — Manufacturing industries of the town — 
The reservoir system — School districts and churches. 



CHAPTER III. 
Cranston, Johnston, Scituate, and Foster, . 398 

Cranston — Early house — King Philip's War — Manufacturing — 
The Spragues — The state institutions — The Budlong farm — 
Johnston — Early manufacturing interests — Scituate — Early 
settlers — Villages of the town — Industries — Foster — The 
population — Eminent men. 



CHAPTER IV. 
Bristol County, Bristol, Warren, and Barring- 



ton, 



4<>3 



Bristol — Early settlers — King Philip — Fir^t important events 
— Commerce and manufactures — The Revolutionary War — 
Present industries — Banks of the town — Business interests — 
Warren — Early days of the town — Commerce and other indus- 
tries — Educational interests — The manufacturing companies 
of to-day — Other classes of business — Ban ington — Peculiar 
features of society among the settlers — Chief industries — 
Chief settlements in the town. 



CHAPTER V. 

Warwick, Coventry, East and West Greenwich, . 415 

Warwick — Early territory of the town — Early settlers — The 
King Philip War — Revolutionary heroes — Early manufactur- 
ing — The manufacturing villages of the town — The Clyde 
Bleachery and Print Works — The Gleaner — Coventry — Vil- 
lages of the town — Manufacturing, past and present — East 
Greenwich — Early boundary disputes — Beautiful location — 
Early manufacturing — Educational interests — West Green- 
wich — Industrial interests of the town. 

CHAPTER VI. 

The Narragansett County, Washington County, 
Kingstown, North and South, Exeter, Westerly, 
hopkinton, charlestown, richmond, . . 422 

North Kingstown — Early settlers — Early territorial disputes — 
The King Philip War — The various villages of the town — Early 
and recent manufactures — South Kingstown — The Hazard, 
Helme, and Potter families — Peacedale, and other villages in 
the town — Exeter — Its ponds — Manufactories — Westerly — 
Indians who inhabited the territory — First white settlers — 
Manufacturing development — Hopkinton — Its villages and 
business interests — Charlestown — The Indian reservation — 
The great ponds — Fort Ninigret — Richmond — Early settlers 
of the town — Industries of the people. 



Digitized by 



Google 



i6 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Newport County, The City of Newport, Ports- 
mouth, Jamestown, Tiverton, Little Comp- 
ton, and New Shoreham (Block Island), . 431 

Newport, or Aquidneck — The Antinomian persecution — The ne- 
gotiations with Plymouth — Fir6t form of government and 
purchase of the island — Settlement at Pocasset — Peculiarities 
of the colony — Settlement at Newport — Civic government of 
the island — Rhode Island — Objections to the charter of the 
Providence Plantations — Coddington's "usurpation" — Gold 
mine on the island — Coddington's commission revoked — 
First naval commission of the colony — Rapid growth of the 
colony — The Quakers — King Philip's War — The Andros usur- 
pation — His capture at Newport — Small-pox — Pirates — Build- 
ing of fort — Execution of twenty-six pirates — Governor Crans- 



ton's administration — First resistance to British authority — 
Newport establishes a watch — Set-off of Middletown — New- 
pot t Mercury — Destruction of British sloop " Liberty" — Occu- 
pation by British army — The wreck of Newport — Newport at- 
tempts to be a city — Fallback to town government — Fifty 
years rest — Revival of Newport as a summer resort — Newport 
at the present time — Mayors of Newport — The churches — 
Business interests — Middletown — Set-off from Newport— A 
farming town — Portsmouth — Once Pocasset — Includes Pru- 
dence, which was once an independent nation — Portsmouth 
Ferry —Battle of Rhode Island — Coal mines — Fish industry 

— Jamestown — Its early settlement and later history — Tiver- 
ton — A Massachusetts settlement — Becomes a part of Rhode 
Island — Little Compton — Land of the " Soughkonnets " — 
Capt. Benjamin Church. New Shoreham — Manisses — Claudia 

— •» Adrian's Eyland," Block Island — Its physical peculiarities 

— Its history — Subject to piratical attacks — As a summer resort 

— Palatine light — Its harbor of refuge past and present. 



PART FIFTH. 



CHAPTER I. 

The Municipal Celebration, and the Williams 

Family Reunion, 451 

The first day — Literary and historical exercises at the First 
Baptist Church — Oration by the Hon. Thomas Durfee — The 



school children's festival at'the park — The Rhode Island Choral 
Association concert at Infantry Hall — The second day — The 
civic and military parade — The afternoon's trades procession — 
The fireworks demonstration — The reunion of the descendants 
of Roger Williams at Sayles' Memorial Hall, with roll of those 
who attended. 



MAPS. 



Map of Providence in 1646, showing the Home Lots of Original Proprietors, 

(On page 37 the date in the title under the map should read " 1646," not " 1664.") 

Map of the Town of Providence in 1823, 



Fac-Simile of the " Daniel Anthony Map," the first map ever made of the town of Providence, . 
Map of the State of Rhode Island, 



Page. 

37 

66 

7» 
469 



Digitized by 



Google 



List er Illustrations. 



Page. 

Abbott House, 49 

Abbott " Still " House, — Later Young's Tea Store, 51 

Aldrich House, The, 359 

American Screw Company — The Eagle and Bay 

State Mills, 264 

Arcade, The, 77 

Armington & Sims Steam Engine, — Two Views, . 260 

Arsenal. The, 85 

Athenaeum, The, 88 

Attack on the Confederate Forts at Roanoke, 181 

Beneficent Congregational Church, . . . 145 

Betsey Williams House. 361 

Blanding, William B., Drug House of, . . . 326 

Blackstone, The, at Lonsdale, .... 390 

Board of Trade, 93 

Boston Shoe Store, 303 

Bristol Illustrations : 

Briggs, Dr. L. W., Residence of, . . . 405 

Bristol from the Harbor, .... 404 

Burnside, A. E., Former Residence of, . . 407 

Burnside Memorial Building, .... 407 

Collins, Capt. John, Residence of, . . . 405 

Colt, S. P., Residence of, 408 

Easterbrooks, F. A., Residence of, . . . 409 

Greene, Charles A., Residence of, . . . 406 

High Street, View of, ...... 408 

Methodist Church, 404 

Oldest House in Bristol, 407 

Rogers Free Library Building, . . . 407 

St. Michael's Church, 404 

Wardwell, W. T. C, Residence of, . 408 

Brown House, Deputy-Gov. Elisha, 53 

Bristol Ferry, Portsmouth, . . . . . 447 

Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company, Works of, 261 

Brown University Buildings, 163 

Burnside's Welcome to Knoxville, . . . 183 

Butler Exchange, 95 

Butler Hospital for the Insane, . . ' . . 209 

Buttonwoods Beach, Warwick, .... 418 

Candace Street Grammar School House, . . 169 

Capitol at Washington, The, 179 

Chestnut Street Methodist Episcopal Church, . 152 

City Hall, The, 115 

Coffee House, The Old, . . ... . 67 

Congregational Church, Peacedale, . . . 424 

Corliss Safe, The, — Three Views, . . . 269 

County Court House, The, 92 

Court House at Kingston, The, .... 425 

Crystal Lake, Roger Williams Park, . . . 360 

Da vol Rubber Company's Factory, . . . 282 

Dorr Mansion, The, 357 

East Greenwich Illustrations : 

Academy, The, 421 

East Greenwich from the Water, . . . 420 

Episcopal Church, 420 

Street Scene, 421 

Exchange Place and Union Depot, . . . . 129 



Page. 

Familiar Scenes in Providence . . Frontispiece. 

Market Square and Westminster Street, " 
Market Square and South Water Street, ki 
South Water and Dyer Streets and Crawford 

Street Bridge, . . . . Frontispiece. 
Weybosset, looking towards Westminster 

Street, " 

Falls at Washington Village, Coventry, . . 419 

Federal Street Grammar School House, . . 172 

Fenner House, the Old Gov. Arthur, . . . 399 

Fenner House, the Old Maj. Thomas, . . . 399 

Firemen's Statue, 122 

First Baptist Church, 143 

First Congregational Church, .... 151 

First Light Infantry Building, . . . . 177 

First Universalist Church, 153 

Fletcher Manufacturing Company, View of, . 253 

Foster & Bailey's Manufactory, .... 338 

Fox Point Observatory, 88 

Freeman, E. L. & Son, Printing House of, . . 322 

Friends' School, 173 

Goddard, R. H. I., Residence of, .... 356 

Gorham Building, New York, 273 

Gorham Manufacturing Company, Works of, . 274 

Grace Church, 151 

Great Storm of 18 15, The, 73 

Greene Engine, The Improved, .... 258 

Greenville, View of, 397 

Grinnell Sprinkler, — Two Views, .... 266 

High School, The Providence, .... 93 

Homoeopathic Hospital, Providence, . . . 224 

Hope Valley, Hopkinton, 429 

Hoppin Homestead Building, Providence, . . 175 

Hotel Dorrance, 358 

Household Sewing Machine, 272 

Hydraulion, No. i, 120 

Hydraulion, No. 1, — Second Engine, . . . 121 

India Point, About 1840, 81 

Indians Fishing, 26 

Indian Burying-Ground, Charlestown, . . . 429 

Insurance Policy 1,155, Fac Simile of, . . 350 

Jewelry Shops, Ancient and Modern, . . 338 

Kennedy, Jerome, Establishment of, . . . 301 

Knight, B. B., Residence of, 356 

Lake Moswansicut, North Scituate, . . . 401 

Leavens & Birch's Store, 302 

Lippitt Mansion, 357 

Little Captive, A, 24 

Loughlin, F. H., Office of, 310 

McAuslan, John, Residence of, .... 355 

Macullar, Parker & Company's Building, . . 300 

Market Square in 1844, 87 

Market Square and Union Railroad Depot, . 131 

Masonic Hall, 201 

Modern Transport. A 127 

Minute-Man of the Revolution, A, 56 

Narragansett Hotel, 358 



Digitized by 



Google 



i8 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



Page. 

Nicholson File Company, Works of, . . . 271 
Newport Illustrations : 

Along the Cliffs, 430 

Beach in 1886, The, 430 

Bellevue Avenue, 430 

Bird's-Eye View of Newport, . . . . 441 

Brenton's Reef Light-Ship, .... 43*2 

Casino, The, 434 

Channing Memorial Church, .... 445 

Coddington House, The Old, .... 436 

Familiar Scenes at Newport, .... 430 

Fort Adams, 433 

Jewish Cemetery, Entrance to, . . . 436 

Lime Rock Light, 446 

Lorillard Villa, The, 436 

Newport from the Harbor, .... 435 

Old Mill, 430 

Perry, Com. O. H., Statue of, .... 446 

Perry, Com. Matthew, Statue of, . . . 446 

Post-Office and Custom House, . . . 430 

Thames Street, 434 

Trinity Church, 444 

Washington Square, . . . . . 430 

Oakland Beach, Warwick, 417 

Ocean No. 7, Fire Engine, 123 

Old Ballou Meeting House, Cumberland, . . 39 j 

Old Butterfly Factory, Lincoln, .... 390 

Old Fort Dumplings, Jamestown, .... 448 

Old Quaker Meeting House, Lincoln, . . . 391 

Old Town House, 117 

Old Witch House in Salem, 23 

Pascoag, View of, 397 

Pawtucket and Central Falls Illustrations : 

Along the River Front, Central Falls, . 374 

Congregational Church, 381 

Main Street, View of, 377 

Music Hall, 380 

North Main Street, • 374 

Old Jones School House, 376 

Old Slater Mill, 384 

Park Place Congregational Church, . . 380 
Pawtucket Falls in 1789, .... 376 
Pawtucket Falls in 1886, .... 377 
Pawtucket from the Belfry of the Congre- 
gational Church, 374 

Pawtucket from below Division Street 

Bridge, View of, 387 

Pumping Station, 384 

The River from Exchange Street Bridge, . 382 

Trinity Church, 381 

Universalist Church, 381 

Pawtuxet River at Phenix, 415 

Pawtuxet River at Pawtuxet, .... 400 

Primitive Fire Apparatus, 119 

Potter's Pharmacy, 329 

Point Street Grammar School, . . . . 170 

Prospect Terrace, 97 

Providence Bank, The Old, 75 

Providence Fireman, A, 118 

Providence Institution for Savings, . . . 235 

Providence Machine Company, Works of, . . 262 
Providence, Norfolk and Baltimore Steamship 

Company, Docks of, 141 

Providence Policeman, A, 1 13 

Providence Post-Office, 132 



Page. 

Providence, View of, from Federal Hill in 1808, 69 

Providence, View of, from Manchester Hill in 1819, 79 
Providence, View of, from the River, . Title Page. 

Providence, View of, from Smith's Hill in 1827, . 20 

Providence, View of, from Smith's Hill in 1886, . 215 

Providence Windlasses, — Two Views, . . . 268 

Raid on the Settlers, A, 33 

Reid, J. A. & R. A., Printing House of, . . 323 

Rhode Island Hospital, 208 

Rhode Island Historical Society's Cabinet, . 78 
Rocky Point from the Bay, View of, . . . 416 
Rumford Chemical Works, Office and Ware- 
house of, 277 

Rumford Chemical Works at Rumford, . . 276 

Sabin Tavern, The, 359 

Saint John's Church, 147 

Saints Peter and Paul's Cathedral, . . 154 

Schooner " Gaspee," Destruction of the, . . 59 

Second Universalist Church, 153 

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, .... 95 

State House, Providence, 99 

State Prison, Cranston, 117 

Stuart, Gilbert, Birthplace of, .... 423 

Squantum, East Providence, 390 

Swamp Fort, South Kingstown, Site of the Old, 43 

Taylor, Symonds & Company, Establishment of, 297 

Thayer Street Grammar School House, . . 167 

Tinkham, William & Company's Mill, Harrisville, 396 

44 Town Evidence," Fac-Simile of, .... 29 

Union Congregational Church, .... 145 

Union No. 3, One of the Earliest Engines, . . 119 

Vineyard Street Grammar School House, . . 171 
Warren Illustrations : 

Baptist Church, 412 

Main Street, 413 

Methodist Church, 412 

Warren from the Beacon, . . . . 410 

Watch Hill Light, . 42.9 

Water Witch, No. 6, and Fire Hose Reel, . . 123 
Westerly Illustrations : 

Broad Street, View on, 427 

Congregational Church, 428 

Seventh Day Baptist Church, .... 428 

Westerly and the Pawcatuck River, View of, 426 

What Cheer Printing House, 323 

Woonsocket Illustrations : 

Blackstone at Woonsocket, The, . . . 395 

Falls at Woonsocket, 394 

High School, 394 

Main Street, and P. & W. Passenger Station, 392 

Market Square, 392 

Monument Square, 392 

Woonsocket from the East, .... 395 

Woonsocket, General View of, . . . 392 

woonasquatucket, johnston, vlew on the, . . 4oo 

Wickford, A View of, 423 

Williams, Joseph, House built by, . . . . 45 
Williams, Roger, Meeting House, Salem, in which 

he preached, 21 

Williams, Roger, Interior of Old Meeting House, 22 

Williams, Roger, Landing at the Spring, . . 25 

Williams, Roger, Monument, 361 

Williams, Roger, Statue of, 451 

Williams, Roger, Return from England, . . 31 

Willams, Roger, Pitcher, 304 



Digitized by 



Google 



Inbex to Portraits. 



Pages. 

Add eman, Joshua M., 364 

Aldrich, Nelson W., 362 

Allen, Zachariah, 345 

Anthony, Henry B., 90 

Atkinson, James, ....... 439 

Ballou Sullivan, 191 

Barnaby, J. B., 299 

Barton, Colonel, 65 

Barstow, Amos C, 103 

Bedlow, Henry, 439 

Bourn, Augustus O., . . . . . 373 

Bradley, Charles S., 229 

Brown, Joseph R., 261 

Brown, Nicholas, 162 

Bridgh am, Samuel W., 102 

Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 89 

Burnside, Mrs. Gen. A. E., 223 

Budlong, James A., 398 

Burdick, J. Truman, 440 

Burgess, Thomas M., 103 

BURGBS, TRISTAM, 83 

Calvert, George H., 437 

Carrington, Edward, 290 

Chace, Jonathan, 362 

Chaffee, Oliver, 389 

Channing, William Ellbry, .... 443 

Charles II., King of England, .... 41 

Chamberlain, William E., 135 

Clarke, George L., 109 

Clark, Rt. Rev. Thomas M., 149 

Corliss, George H., 257 

Cozzens, William C, 437 

Cranston, William H., 438 

Cromwell, Oliver, 35 

Cutler, Charles R., 411 

Danforth, Walter R., 104 

Danielson, George W., 318 

Darling, Lucius B,, 363 

Davis, Perry, 279 

Dixon, Nathan F., 427 

Dorr, Thomas W., 86 

Doyle, Thomas A., 101 

Durfee, Thomas, 227 

Dyer, Elisha, 366 

Eambs, Benjamin T., 231 

Fairbrother, Lewis, 383 

Franklin, Robert S., 440 

Freeman, Edward L., . ". 322 

Folsom, A. A., 133 

Gardiner, J. B., . . .133 

Goff, Darius, 379 

Greene, Benjamin F., 379 

Greene, Charles A., 406 

Greene, Nathaniel, 62 

Griswold, Rt. Rev. A. V., 148 

Grosvenor, Dr. William, 250 



Pages. 

Hall, William H., 309 

Hail, George, 265 

Harris, William A., 259 

Harris, Edward, 393 

Hayward, William S., 110 

Hendricken, Rt. Rev. Thomas F., . . . 157 

Hill, Thomas J., 263 

Hopkins, Esek, 61 

Hopkins, William H., 283 

Hoppin, William W., 365 

Howard, Henry, 369 

Jenckes, Thomas A., 226 

Kendall, Henry L., 278 

Kingsbury, John, 349 

Klapp, Lyman, 278 

Knight, B. B., 251 

Knight, Jabez C, 107 

Knowles, Edward P., 105 

Lee, Charles A., 385 

Lippitt, Henry, 370 

Littlefield, Alfred H., 372 

Manning, James, d. d., 162 

Nicholson, William T., 270 

Padelford, Seth, 368 

Parker, Samuel A., 438 

Powell, John Hare, 431 

Prescott, Henry A., 193 

Rice, Fitz James, 280 

Robbins, Gilbert F., in 

Robinson, E. G., d. d., ll. d., 161 

Rockwell, Elisha H., 140 

Rodman, Isaac P., 186 

Rodman, William M., 106 

Sayles, Frederic C, 375 

Sayles, William F., 378 

Sears, Barnas, d. d., ll.d., 165 

Shepard, Rev. Thomas, 403 

Slater, John, 243 

Slater, Samuel, 241 

Slocum, JohnS., 187 

S locum, Stephen P., 439 

Smith, James Y., 94 

Sprague, William, 91 

Stone, Waterman, 139 

Stuart, Gilbert, 422 

Swinburne, William J., 437 

Talbot, Silas, 65 

Tinkham, William, 137 

Tower, Levi, 192 

Turner, Thomas G., 367 

Van Zandt, Charles C, 371 

Ward, Samuel, 63 

Wayland, Francis, d. d., ll. d., .... 164 

Wetmore, George Peabody, 363 

Whitman, Sarah Helen, 220 

Woods, Rev. Alva, d. d., 165 



Digitized by 



Google 




i z 

i 5 

i * 

to £ 

g 1 

c 

UJ • 



> 

o 

cc 
a. 



Digitized by 



Google 



PART FIRST. 



Chapter I. 



ARRIVAL OF ROGER WILLIAMS AT PROVIDENCE — 1636. 

PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS A WILDERNESS — ROGER WILLIAMS, HIS ARRIVAL IN MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY SETTLEMENT 

AT SALEM — PERSECUTION — REMOVAL TO PLYMOUTH — RETURN TO SALEM — RENEWED PERSECUTION DRIVEN INTO 

THE WILDERNESS — SETTLEMENT AT SEEKONK COVE — NOTIFIED TO QUIT — CANOE VOYAGE TO MOUTH OF MOSHASSUCK 
RIVER — BUILDS HIS WIGWAM — ASCENDS TO SUMMIT OF PROSPECT HILL — WHAT HE SAW THENCE. 




THE OLD MEETING-HOUSE 

In which Roger Williams Preached before hit Banishment from the Massachusetts Bay Colony 

ift 1635. Now standing in Sarem, Mass. 

Two hundred and fifty years ago the section of country which 
afterwards became known as " Providence Plantations," and now 
forms a most important part of the " State of Rhode Island and 
Providence Plantations " was an unbroken wilderness. No 
white man, so far as is known, had ever climbed its hills or wan- 
dered through its valleys.* 

Its only human inhabitants were the Indian savages who had 
several so-called " towns " within its borders. These towns were 
simply groups of wigwams in which the red men gathered when 
convenient, and left when whim or fancy seized them. Though 
there were sometimes gathered around these towns the scanty 

• We leave out of consideration the legends of the Norse settlements during the middle 
ages. 



plantations of the savages, yet there was nothing approaching a 
permanency of individual property or residence in them, and 
throughout the whole broad territory the wolf roamed unmolested, 
and the wild fox dug his hole unscared. 

Five years before that time, Roger Williams, a young and en- 
thusiastic Welshman, — who had graduated from Pembroke Col- 
lege, Cambridge, Eng.,been ordained a minister of the Estab- 
lished Church of England, and had dissented and separated from 
that church on account of what he deemed its intolerance, — 
came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in search of a place where 
he could live and profess, unmolested, the freedom of religious 
thought, which he believed was an inherent right of every indi- 
vidual soul. He was welcomed to Salem in that colony, made a 
< 4 teacher " or assistant pastor of a little church there, and openly 
preached the right of the soul to free action in its religious con. 
cernments. 

Unfortunately for his peace, he was far in advance of the views 
of the colonial authorities. The "freedom to worship God" 
which the Massachusetts Bay colonists had crossed the ocean to 
seek, was a freedom to do it in their own particular way ; and 
when Roger Williams came among them and advocated the right 
of each individual soul to seek communion with God in its own 
way, his doctrines clashed with those held and practiced by the 
rulers of the colony. They made his position in Salem so un- 
comfortable that he deemed it best to go to the neighboring col- 
ony of Plymouth, where more liberal principles were practiced. 

He remained in Plymouth as an assistant pastor of its church, 
two years, during which time he made acquaintance with, and 
gained the life-long friendship of many of the best minds in the 
colony and of the sachems of the Indian tribes locatedt herein, 
and also devoted much time to the study of the Indian character 
and language. 

It would appear that he felt that he had acted wrongfully in 
deserting the church at Salem, many of whose members still 
held steadfastly to him and his doctrines on account of the per- 
secution he received from the authorities at Boston, for, after 
remaining two years at Plymouth, he returned and cast in his lot 
with that church, resolved to "fight the good fight" on the old 
battle-ground. He was so popular at Plymouth that when he 
made this change many of his congregation there followed him 
to f his new pastoral field. 



Digitized by 



Google 



22 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




INTERIOR OF THE CHURCH IN WHICH ROGER WILLIAMS PREACHED, SALEM, MASS 



He had scarcely settled for the second time in Salem, when 
the colonial authorities at Boston commenced another course 
of persecution against the church and himself, which was con- 
tinued for two years, and finally culminated on Oct. 9, 1635, 
in a sentence that "it is therefore ordered that the said Mr. 
Williams shall depart out of this jurisdiction (Massachusetts 
Bay Colony) within six weeks now next ensuing." This 
period was afterwards extended till the following spring of 
1636, on condition that he would not attempt u to draw others to 
his opinion." 

Claiming that he had broken this condition, on the nth of 
January, 1636, the governor and his assistants sent for him to 
come to Boston that he might be sent to England in a vessel then 
ready to depart. He returned an answer to this summons that 
" he could not come without hazard to his life," he being then 
sorely ill. Upon receipt of this reply a " pinnace " and crew, 
under command of Captain Underhill, was sent to take him by 
force, and put him on board ship, but upon arriving at his house at 
Salem, the captain found that Mr. Williams had been gone 
thence three days. Alone and unprotected, save by his God, he 
had started on his long wanderings, when, as he himself said, he 
was u sorely tossed for fourteen weeks in a bitter winter season, 
not knowing what bread or bed did mean," and finally, about 
April 30, 1636, found himself in the country of the Wampa- 
noags, within the boundary of Plymouth Colony. 

He obtained a grant from the Wampanoag sachem, Massasoit, 
of lands on the east side of the Seekonk River ; settled on the 
northeast shore of Seekonk Cove, was joined there by his wife 
and family, and by William Harris, John Smith, Joshua Verin, 
Thomas Angell, Francis Wickcs, and perhaps others, who, 
with their families, came in the spring to join him, and com- 
menced to build and to plant. To this day are to be seen on the 



Daggett Farm, on the north side of the Seekonk Cove, 
openings in the ground, which tradition says are the 
cellar holes of the houses erected by Williams and his 
friends. 

Having built their houses, and planted their little 
fields undisturbed, they hoped that they had at last 
found a place of safety from the persecution of the 
General Court of the Bay Colony. But their plantings 
had scarcely germinated and appeared above ground, 
when Roger Williams received a letter from his friend 
Governor Winslow, of Plymouth, to " lovingly advise 
him " that he was " fallen into the edge of their 
bounds," that they were " loth to displease the Bay," 
and that if he remove but to the other side of the water, 
he would have " the country before (him), and might 
be as free as themselves," and u they should be loving 
neighbors together." This was, practically, a " notice 
to quit," and though couched in words of loving kind- 
ness, yet, read in the light of those times, when men 
were burned at the stake for the good of their souls, 
and executed out of motives of kindness to save them 
from the clutches of Satan, there was an unpleasant 
lurid glare of persecution and possible execution in the 
background if it was not obeyed. 

It might seem, perhaps, that Governor Winslow's 
influence should have saved the party from such evils, 
but Roger Williams was on equally friendly terms with 
ex-Governor Winthrop, of the Bay Colony, in fact, 
more closely associated with him, for he was then, or 
shortly after became, his business partner, and joint 
owner with him of the island of Prudence, and yet 
Governor Winthrop's influence was riot sufficient to 
prevent his persecution and banishment by the Bay 
authorities. It was a hard trial after all their suffering, to' be 
obliged to leave that lovely spot where they had spent so much 
labor in making their homes and plantations ; but Williams and 
his friends were not men to spend time in useless repinings. 
Accepting the situation as they found it forced upon them, a few 
days after the receipt of the letter, apparently about the 1 2th of 
June, O. S., 23d, N. S., he and his five before-named com- 
panions embarked in a canoe and paddled out of the cove on to 
the broad surface of the Seekonk, to seek an available place of 
settlement to the west of the river.* 

They found the west shore of the Seekonk to consist of a series 
of high, forest-crowned bluffs of sand or gravel, with no desirable 
supply of fresh water. They coasted down the west shore to a 
ledge of slate rock which projected from under a bluff into deep 
water, presenting just above the level of the highest tides, a large 
flat surface ; this was the " Roger Williams," or " slate " rock, at 
present far back from the water and many feet below the arti- 
ficial surface of the ground. A small group of Indians were 
gathered on the rock, and hailed, u Wha Cheer, Netop," the first 
salutation ever heard by a white man from the shore of Provi- 
dence. Bringing their canoe alongside of the rock, they entered 
into conversation with the friendly natives, but soon departed 
thence and continued down the river. Passing under the steep 
bluff of Tockwotton Hill, they rounded its southeastern shoulder, 
and reached the open waters of the Narragansett Bay. 

Here the shore stretched to the westward and was formed by 
the southern slope of Tockwotton Hill, till it reached a series of 

* A copy of a memorandum, made by Benedict Arnold, runs as follows : " Mem. We 
came to Providence to dwell the aoth of April 1636, per me. Benedict Arnold." This, if 
true, places Williams (the first settler) there before that date; but the weight of historical 
evidence seems to indicate about June 33 as the date of settlement, and that Arnold's 
•• mem," made after the event, as published, bears a mistaken date, or else that the Provi- 
dence referred to is the Seekonk Cove settlement. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



2* 



smaller hills, this series terminating in Fox Hill, near Fox Point. 
Rounding the Fox Hill point, they entered what they called 
the u great salt river," afterwards known as Providence River, 
and followed its eastern shore in a northerly direction. Just 
north of Fox Hill they found a cove, afterwards called Mile-End 
Cove, stretching in between Fox Hill and the main hill on the 
.eastern side, which is now called Prospect Hill, offering a boat 
harbor but no facilities for a permanent settlement. 

On the west side of the river a series of flats and marshes 
formed the shore back to where the land began to rise towards 
the general level of a sandy plain beyond. The spot upon which 
the Arcade now stands was an island. Near it, to the eastward, 
was a high clay bluff, " Weybosset Hill," rising out of the marsh, 
around the southern and eastern edge of which what is now 
Weybosset Street was afterwards laid out. A low point of land 
ran down to what is now Washington Row, and these different 
spots formed, according to the state of the tide, sometimes one, and 
sometimes more islands, but around all stretched an uninviting 
area of salt marsh. No place for a settlement could be found there. 
Above Mile-End Cove the main hill, then called Moshas- 
suck, now Prospect, rose abruptly from the shore, and they 
coasted along its forest-clothed western edge till they came to 
where the waters of the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck rivers 
meet. Here they found a beautiful cove stretching to the west- 
ward, and at its northeastern shore, near the small estuary formed 
at the mouth of the Moshassuck River, a copious spring of fresh 
water flowed from the ground by the edge of a strip of com- 
paratively level land that lay between the steep hillside and the 
river. 

At this place, a little below and to the westward of the present 
site of St. John's Church they landed, and determined to form 
their settlement, which, in recognition of God's gracious kind- 
ness and watchful care over them, and finally bringing them safely 
out of the land of persecution, Roger Williams called Provi- 
dence. As in after days, the settlements spread in all directions 
from this central point, they collectively received the name of 
Providence Plantations. 

The first matter requiring the attention of Williams and his 
companions was the preparation of shelter for their families ; the 
first erected consisted, probably, of mere wigwams of poles driven 
into the ground and thatched with hemlock boughs and forest 
leaves — the rudest form of a temporary Indian hut — but affording, 
at that season of the year, a rain-proof shelter sufficient to last till 
they could build the more permanent dwellings of wood, which 
were erected during the summer. The making of one or more 
wigwams was but the work of a few hours. 

When he had built his wigwam and refreshed himself by the 
waters, he (Williams) might have climbed, with Harris, the first 
surveyor of our primitive wilderness, to the summit of the east- 
ern hillside directly above his wigwam, to where Prospect Street 
now runs, for a wider view of this new territory. 

From a height of nearly two hundred feet they would have 
looked through the openings in the oak woods westward over the 
cove at the head of the great salt river, with its broad sandy 
beaches on the eastern and northern shores, and a border of salt 
marshes on the western and southern. 

Into the cove from the north came the sparkling waters of the 
Moshassuck River, leaping over the falls where it emptied into 
the quiet estuary at its mouth ; from their position they could 
gaze northward up its fertile valley, which even in its wilder- 
ness state, formed a scene of beauty, with its intervales thronged 
by the graceful wild deer. 

Into the Cove from the west came the clear waters of the 
Woonasquatucket, cutting its way through a level plateau, mak- 




THE OLD WITCH HOUSE, SALEM, MASS. 

Built by Roger Williams In 1634, afterwards occupied by Jonathan Corwin, Esq., one 
of the judges during the witchcraft trials. 

ing what we now call the Woonasquatucket Valley, a portion of 
which was flowed at times by the tide and covered with a coarse, 
rank growth of " thatch," from which those lands derived their 
name, which still clings to them in the minds of the older inhabi- 
tants, of " Thatch," or " Thatch right lots." 

Between these two rivers, and to the south of the last and the 
Cove, lay a level, sandy plateau, covered with pine forests and 
stretching to the Indian "town" of Mashapaug on the south- 
west, and the Pawtuxet Valley on the south. On its eastern side 
this plateau sloped down to the edge of the tidal flow, near 
where Eddy Street now stands, for a mile or more to the south- 
ward, and below that reached out at intervals forming sandy blufts 
on the shore of the river. Between the edge of the tidal flow 
and the open waters of the great salt river lay an area of salt 
marsh studded with islands, and with the bold clay peak of Wey- 
bosset Hill rising from it ; down the river to the south, rose the 
steep hilts at Sassafras and Field's points, beyond which might 
be seen glimpses of the lower bay and its forest crowned shores 
and islands. 

Immediately at their feet, and gradually diminishing in height, 
to the south stretched the steep western slope of the hill on which 
they stood, covered with a growth of oak and hickory, with Fox 
Hill projecting into the bay beyond its lowest extremity. 

The eastern slope of the hill descended by easy forest-covered 
terraces to the level of the bluffs on the shore of the Seekonk, 
about a mile to the eastward, forming at their southern extremity 
the Tockwotton Hill, over which and the blufts, might be seen 
the Plymouth Colony shore. 

To the northeast the view was cut off by a higher eminence, 
covered with oak and pine forest, while in all directions, except 
to the south, over the bay of the " Nannhigansetts," the gaze, 
after appreciating the points described, was lost in an indistin- 
guishable maze of forest-crowned eminences. 

Such was "Providence Plantations" as it first appeared to 
Roger Williams and his friend Harris. 

In the following pages we shall show the successive steps 
whereby the wilderness upon which they gazed on that June day 
in 1636, became the rich, cultured, and prosperous city which 
meets the view in this June of 1886. 



Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter II. 



THE ABORIGINAL DWELLERS IN THE LAND— 1636. 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE INDIANS PERSONAL APPEARANCE — RELIGIOUS BELIEFS MORALITY HOSPITALITY — GOV- 
ERNMENT PROPERTY RIGHTS — HOUSES — CLOTHING ARTS AND BUSINESS CHARACTERISTICS — WAMPUM MONEY TREAT- 
MENT OF SICK — SPORTS. 



We left Roger 
Williams and his 
companion upon the 
summit of the hill, 
studying the land as 
it lay in a bird's-eye 
view before them. 
To understand the 
early life of the col- 
ony it is necessary to 
know something of 
the nature and pe- 
culiarities of the in- 
habitants of the coun- 
try they were in- 
specting. It was the 
country of the Nar- 
ragansetts, a power- 
ful and populous In- 
dian nation whose 
main seat was on the 
mainland to the 
westward and north- 
westward of the bay 
to which they gave 
their name, together with the islands in the same, and who exer- 
cised a supremacy, as conquerors over subject tribes, extending 
through all eastern Massachusetts on the one side, and over parts 
of eastern Connecticut on the other. 

The early New England writers agree in ascribing to this na- 
tion a character more praiseworthy than to any other of the New 
England natives. We find them exhibiting not only the savage 
virtues of courage, endurance, and vigilance, but Christian hos- 
pitality, tolerance, forbearance, and forgiveness in a far higher 
degree than was practiced by their white neighbors. They were, 
both physically and mentally, a powerful, active face, and in the 
arts of life and business as practiced by the natives, they were 
the leaders in New England. They carried agriculture to a higher 
point than any other tribe. Their manufactures were celebrated 
throughout the country as the best native ones attainable. They 
possessed a mercantile system ; they coined and issued the cur- 
rency in use for hundreds of miles along the coast and far into 
the interior; they had systems of religion, of government, and of 
law, and fully appreciated the necessity and importance of per- 
sonal morality, integrity, and honor. 

There were amongst them the same varieties of character as 




A LITTLE CAPTIVE. 



found in all races. Williams divides them broadly into " two 
classes (as the English are) some more rude and clownish," and 
among members of the higher class we find instances of selfish- 
ness, meanness, and treachery, as we find them among the white 
men ; but as a nation, their high standing at that time is undis- 
puted. Contact with the whites caused their rapid deterioration, 
and we shall have to trace the sad process as it went on ; but we 
will first outline their condition before it commenced. 

In personal appearance they were tall and erect, strong in phys- 
ical proportions, and with high cheek bones, piercing eyes, and 
straight black hair ; their complexions were of a dark brown or 
copper color. Their numbers are variously reckoned, but proba- 
bly about thirty thousand would be a fair estimate. They lived 
in towns scattered over the country so thickly that Roger Williams 
often passed through a dozen of them in a journey of twenty miles. 

Their religious belief was of the Pantheistic order. They be- 
lieved in one god "Manit" or "Manitowock" who was and is 
supreme — that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek 
him. 

They also recognized a number of inferior gods, — Williams 
gives the number as thirty-seven, — and any superior excellence in 
a man, animal, or tree, they denominated u godly." Their fa- 
vorite god was " Cotantowit" the god of the southwest. He 
sent them warm weather — the spring came from his home. 
Thence had come their first seed corn and beans, and he watched 
over and cared for their crops from the planting to the gathering 
season, and at the close of harvest-time they had annually a great 
thanksgiving festival in his honor. Their next god in rank was 
the " Sun God " and at the close of December when he began 
his return towards the northern heavens, they, in the words of 
Williams, " run mad once a year in their kind of Christmas feast- 
ing" in his honor. Their next god was the " Moon God," 
then the " Sea God," and so on in a descending scale. They 
believed in a soul that survives after death, and the good go 
to Cotantowit while the souls of murderers, thieves, and liars 
wander restlessly abroad. They taught that Cotantowit made a 
man and woman out of stone, which, disliking, he broke in pieces 
and then made another man and woman out of a tree, whence 
sprang all mankind so far as they originally knew them; When 
they became acquainted with the English, recognizing the vast 
difference between them and the Indians, they thought that some 
other god, unknown to them, must have made the white race. 
44 They have a modest religious persuasion not to disturb any 
man in their (his) conscience and worship." This statement is 
given in the exact words of Roger Williams, as it is interesting to 
know, on his own authority, that he was not the first to intro- 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



25 



duce freedom of religious worship in Providence, but came here 
to practice a liberty in that respect which the ancestors of Canoni- 
cus and Miantonomi had sanctioned from time immemorial. 

Their ideas of morality were largely the same as the whites, 
but their practice was better. Robberies, murders, and adulteries 
were so scarce that Williams pronounces them as not known 
amongst them. Drunkenness and gluttony were unknown vices 
before the advent of the whites. Their most noticeable virtue was 
hospitality, which they practiced towards all, of whatever race 
or religion. If one entered their homes when they were eating they 
offered him of whatever they were partaking even though the sup- 
ply was scanty for themselves. If a stranger came at any time 
they presently offered him whereof to eat and drink. They often 
slept out of doors themselves to make room in their houses for 
guests, and when an Englishman came to a house where there were 
none but Indians the latter would all sleep out of doors to assuage 
the fears of their guest. Roger Williams says of them in this 
respect: "It is a strange truth that a man shall generally find 
more free entertainment and refreshing amongst these barbarians 
than amongst thousands that call themselves Christians. " Again 
he breaks forth : 

"The Courteous Pagan shall condemne 
Uncourteous Englishmen!! 
Who live like foxes bears and wolves 
Or Lyon in his denn." 

They held that the strictest observance in keeping engagements 
was necessary ; that every man's word should be as good as his 
bond, and they could not understand why an Englishman should 
consider that words written on a piece of paper were binding 
while mere spoken promises were easily disregarded. They 
charged Williams with falsehood if he did not keep his appoint- 
ments at the very time set, however he might be hindered ; and 
after Canonicus and Miantonomi had made a verbal grant to him 
of land at Providence nothing more was deemed necessary till 
two years later, after the land had been settled and divided amongst 
various owners, when Williams, probably at the instigation of 
the other owners, asked for and obtained a deed of confirmation 
of the grant. They had an order of priesthood set apart from the 
rest of the people to preside over the services in honor of the 
gods. The priests were also to a certain extent physicians, and 
by a process rather of mental than pharmaceutical influences 
" threatened and conjured out the sickness." 

Their government was monarchical and vested in sachems, 
having a well settled system by which the descent was regulated. 
Generally there were two sachems ruling jointly, for instance, 
Canonicus and Miantonomi, later, Canonicus and Pessicus, then 
Mexham and Pessicus, etc. They sometimes had queens who 
ruled as sachems. There were sub-sachems, counselors, and 
different grades of court officers attending their rulers. 

The sachems administered justice, preserved the peace, and di- 
rected the warlike movements of the tribe. Narragansett tradi- 
tions told that Tashtassuck, the grandfather of Miantonomi, had 
been a great warrior and had conquered all the surrounding na- 
tions, but that since that time under the wise counsels of Canoni- 
cus* brother and himself they had pursued a course of peaceful 
development, and this course they were desirous of pursuing 
towards the whites and did do so to such an extent that Roger 
Williams said in 1644: "I cannot learn that the Narragansetts 
have ever stained their hands with any English blood either in 
open hostilities or secret murders. Many hundreds of English 
people have experimentally found the Indian people to be in- 
clined to peace and love." 

The Narragansett notion of property in real estate was very pe- 
culiar. The tribe owned all the land ; no individual member had 
any permanent right to any portion thereof. An Indian might 



s *W 




ROGER WILLIAMS LANDING AT THE SPRING. 
An Ideal Picture by Oarley. 

choose any unoccupied ground and plant or build on it and was 
entitled to its unobstructed use till he surrendered it. It is diffi- 
cult to conceive of such a dense population carrying on the vari- 
ous arts of life, peacefully, under such a system, but we are as- 
sured of the fact by Roger Williams, and further that there was 
very little disputing and quarreling among them. It was com- 
mon for the sachems, representing the tribes, to buy and sell 
land, but the individual members never did so, though they were 
often compensated for their growing crops or houses on the land, 
in. which a right of property was recognized, when the English 
desired the immediate possession. They recognized a right of 
property in all kinds of personal chattels. 

Their houses were made of long poles which the men obtained 
from the forests and fixed into a frame. This was covered by the 
women with mats, woven by them of coarse sedge, leaving an 
opening at the top for the escape of smoke and the entrance of air 
and light. The door consisted of one of these mats secured at 
the top and hanging down over the entrance. Generally the houses 
were round, and about twelve or fourteen feet in diameter, each 
serving for one family, but sometimes several families lived in one 
house, when the latter was made longer with provisions for two, 
three, or more fires. Williams speaks of houses two hundred 
feet long in which they gathered to hold festivals. The houses 
were lined with finer mats of the same material which the women 
made, and often ornamented by embroidery and painting. In- 
stead of cupboards and shelves they had baskets and sacks hung 
on pegs driven into the frame of the house. Summer houses were 
often covered with bark of the birch or chestnut tree instead of 
mats. 

Their agricultural work was chiefly done by women, who 
broke up the ground with hoes made of wood and shell, and who 
afterwards cared for the growing crops. They were aided at 
planting and harvesting by the men. Neighborhoods would unite 
for mutual aid, men and women by the scores and hundreds com- 
bining to build, plant, hunt, fish, and harvest, " in a very loving, 
sociable, speedy way." They understood the use of fertilizers, and 



Digitized by 



Google 



26 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




THE INDIANS FISHING. 

used menhaden and seaweed as such. The tobacco crop was the 
only one the women did not work at, it being exclusively cared 
for by the men. 

The men pursued the different trades and occupations which 
their state of civilization required, and practiced the principle of 
division of labor. Some hunted, others made bows and arrows, 
some made pottery, others pipes, etc., some were merchants, 
others coined money, and so through all their various arts. 

Their money was called wampum, and was made from shells. 
There were two denominations, one white, made from the shell 
of the periwinkle, and one black, made from the dark spot in 
the quahaug shell, and called wampum peage. The shell was 
clipped and ground into a round piece, about half an inch in di- 
ameter and a fifth of an inch in thickness, with a hole drilled 
through the centre, by means of which the different pieces were 
strung on a line. Three pieces of the black equalled in value six 
pieces of the white, and were equivalent to one penny in English 
currency. In large transactions the wampum was reckoned in 
strings, each constituting a fathom ; the wampum peage being 
worth about six shillings to the fathom. This currency was 
in use for six hundred miles along the coast and far into the in- 
terior. The amount of it in existence was regulated, probably 
by the sachems, on some principle, the particulars of which can- 
not now be determined. The authorized coiners of it had proba- 
bly some system of denoting the genuineness of their work by the 
manner in which it was done, as we find that in after days, when 
it was counterfeited extensively, the Indians were very expert in 
detecting the genuine from the counterfeit. The use of this cur- 
rency was adopted by the whites. Then it was counterfeited by 
them, depreciated in value, and finally went out of existence, 
about as the Narragansetts faded away, and is now only known 
as a rare curiosity in the cabinet of some fortunate collector. 

Their merchants are reported by Williams as "being marvel- 
ous subtle in their bargains. Therefore they will beat all mar- 
kets and try all places, and run twenty, thirty, yea forty miles and 
more to save expense. They are as full of business and as impa- 
tient of hindrance as any merchant in Europe." 

Their canoes were cut out of the solid trunk of a tree, and 
sometimes large enough to hold forty men. In them they made 
quite long voyages along the coasts and to adjacent islands. They 
often combined them into fleets and had regular sea-fights with 
their enemies. They had a system of posts by which alarms 
could be sent through the country, and an armed force quickly 
gathered at any given point. 



Their clothing consisted of a narrow apron about the 
loins, stockings and shoes of deer skin, and a coat or cloak 
thrown over the shoulders, covering the whole body, and girt 
around the waist by a belt, a tobacco bag hanging at the neck 
or tucked to the belt, and a head dress of leather decorated 
with feathers or the tails of animals completed the costume. 
The coats were made of the skins of deer, beaver, otter, rac- 
coon, wolf, or squirrel, and the wealthiest of them had them 
made of the finest of turkey feathers either woven or fastened 
to a leather base. The dress of the sexes was the same in 
style but that of the men was the more highly decorated. Both 
men and women painted their faces for beauty, and the men 
used war paint at appropriate times. The virgins were dis- 
? tinguished by a "bashful falling down of their hair over 
their eyes." When in the house they threw off their skin 
coats, and their garb would appear to us somewhat immod- 
est, yet Williams tells us in his quaint way that " custom 
hath used their minds and bodies to it and in such a freedom from 
any wantonness that I have never seen that wantonness amongst 
them as (with grief) I have heard of in Europe." 

There were no beggars amongst them nor fatherless children 
unprovided for. Their affection for children was very strong, 
and the latter took advantage of it and were often " saucy, bold, 
and undutiful." 

In their treatment of diseases, besides the offices of the priests 
above alluded to, they made use of medicinal plants and a vapor 
bath like the Russian bath of our day. Visiting the sick by 
friends and neighbors was a custom to which a religious atten- 
tion was paid in all* cases of disease except infectious ones. Of 
that class of disorders the natives had a panic dread so great that 
they would take up their houses and move away from the one in 
which such a case occurred ; thus such a house might be in a 
populous town on one day and on the next be standing alone with 
its dead or dying inmates. 

Amongst their sports were foot-ball playing, in which town 
would be arrayed against town on some broad, sandy shore, and 
at which they had great stakings, but seldom quarreled ; a kind 
of dice made of plum stones, painted, which they cast in a tray, 
and for this game they had gambling houses set apart, and a game 
44 like the English cards, yet instead of cards they played with 
strong rushes " ; but their chiefest sport and game was their 
harvest festival, when they resorted by thousands to their festival 
houses and spent the time with feasting, dancing, and giving gifts 
to the poor. 

Thus they lived — a powerful, peacefully inclined nation of 
barbarians with elements of good that under different auspices 
might have developed a great nation of red men ; but instead, they 
were destined in the short space of a life-time to pass through all 
grades of degeneracy, and, as a nation, fade out of existence 
through the blighting influence of the white men. 

Had Roger Williams had the power to perform what he had 
the will to do, their later history would have been far different, 
but as one warm wind from the home of 44 Cotantowit" does not 
make a summer, so the advent of one Christian white leader could 
not bring the summer of Christian civilization to this nation. The 
influences that surrounded and followed Williams were so much 
more powerful than his good will that he was forced to see these 
Indians, his friends, cutoff, root and branch, and could only save 
his fellow-colonists from the withering influences to which the 
Indians succumbed. 



Digitized by 



Google 



J 



Chapter III. 



EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF PROVIDENCE, 1636-1644. 

DETAILS OF SETTLEMENT — SCHEME OF LOT OWNERSHIP — POVERTY OF SETTLERS — NEGOTIATIONS WITH INDIANS — HOME-LIFE 

VERIN EPISODE — DEVELOPMENT OF COLONY — BLACKSTONE AND WILLIAMS — ANTINOMIAMS AND THEIR SETTLEMENT 

AT AOJJIDNECK — DIFFICULTIES AND QUESTIONS OF JURISDICTION — BIRTH OF PROVIDENCE WILLIAMS FORMATION OF FIRST 

BAPTIST CHURCH — FIRST ATTEMPT AT REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT — SAMUEL GORTON HIS EXPERIENCE AT PORTS- 
MOUTH AT PROVIDENCE — AT PAWTUXET — AT SHAWOMET — AT BOSTON — SITUATION OF PROVIDENCE IN WINTER OF 

1642-3 — NECESSITY OF A CHARTER — ROGER WILLIAMS GOES TO ENGLAND OBTAINS A CHARTER — NARRAGANSETT 

PATENT OF MASSACHUSETTS BAY — ANALYSIS OF CHARTER — RETURN OF WILLIAMS — HIS RECEPTION BY CITIZENS OF 
PROVIDENCE. 



Having thoroughly studied the land from their elevated posi- 
tion, Williams and his companions would descend to the spring, 
and join the rest of their friends in their preparations for the re- 
moval of their families from Seekonk Cove. 

It is a singular fact that we have little reliable information as 
to the precise time when the settlement was made or the number 
of people engaged in it. It is extremely improbable that the six 
men who made the canoe voyage we have described, were all the 
men of the settlement of Seekonk Cove. Common prudence 
would have prevented their leaving their wives and families with- 
out some adult male protection and representation while they 
were away. It is more probable that the first day's journey re- 
sulted simply in choosing a locality at the spring, and that even 
the first rude shelter was not made till they had returned and con- 
sulted with their companions and then made subsequent trips 
to examine the ground more minutely, and that it was some days 
thereafter before the others of "their loving friends and neigh- 
bors " removed to Providence. 

Their first organized action seems to have been the formation 
of themselves into a body corporate, to be ruled by the majority 
in all purely civil matters, to which Williams made over in equal 
division all his rights in the territory on which they settled. This 
right consisted in a verbal grant from Canonicus and Miantonomi 
made a year or more before, which he now, probably verbally, 
conveyed to his associates. 

There appears to have been an acquiescence in this rather loose 
title to the real estate till 1637, wnen a so-called deed of confir- 
mation was made by these sachems, establishing the bounds of this 
first grant. This deed also extended the grant to all the land 
from the Moshassuck and Woonasquatucket rivers to Pawtuxet 
River, as also the grass and meadows upon the Pawtuxet River. 
Later, on May 9th, 1639, this grant was further confirmed and ex- 
tended by Miantonomi. A facsimile of this deed in its present 
mutilated condition together with a printed copy of its contents 
is shown on page 29. 

On this rather informal instrument rests all the title of Roger 
Williams and his fellow-colonists to lands in Providence. 

Among their earlier acts was the laying out of the form of their 
settlement, which in time developed into the following plan : 

Starting from a point to the eastward of the spring, at the 
foot of the hill, and following the line of the shore, a road was 



laid out to the northern shore of Mile-End Cove. From near the 
spring to its southern extremity this road was washed on its west- 
ern side by the waters of the great salt river. From the spring 
the road was continued northerly along the foot of the hill till it 
reached a comparatively easy ascent, by the side of a ravine by 
means of which it partially ascended the hill and thence continued 
northward to a point now known as Olney Street. This was the 
town street, and its general course was the same as the North and 
South Main streets of to-day. In after years as the settlers 
pushed their clearings further north on the line of the Indian 
trail to Pawtucket Falls, this street was continued in that direc- 
tion. 

To the eastward of the swamps in the valley of a brook run- 
ning into Mile-End Cove, another road, known as the Highway, 
was laid out in a course generally parallel with this town street. 
This, in after years, was known as the Ferry Road, though it 
never led to a ferry, and is nearly identical with the present Hope 
Street. 

At the north and south ends these two roads were connected 
by transverse ways, nearly corresponding to Olney and Wickenden 
streets of to-day. There were also two transverse highways, 
where Meeting Street and Power Street now respectively run ; 
these were probably left open to accommodate the two Indian 
paths or trails, — the " Wampanoag" and the trail to Watchemoket 
and Montaup. The land inclosed in this irregular oblong was 
divided into narrow lots, each having a front on the town street 
and running back to the highway, and each supposed to contain 
five acres. These were the u home lots " of the settlers. Be- 
sides these " home lots " each settler had an out lot of six acres, 
many laid out along the shore to the south and east of Mile- 
End Cove, and east of the highway as far north as " What 
Cheer," a tract on which was located u What Cheer Rock," and 
which was given by vote of the town in addition to the northern- 
most of these out lots to Roger Williams. Other out lots were 
laid out on the north side of the Woonasquatucket, " and by the 
west river," and perhaps elsewhere. The land not included in 
these two classes of lots was the common property of the town, 
and, as new settlers came and were received into the town fel- 
lowship, new home and out lots were set oft* and sold to them, 
the proceeds of such sale being divided among the townsmen, or 
the town's proprietors, as they came to be styled in later years, 



Digitized by 



Google 



28 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



when a class of townsmen were admitted to partial town fellow- 
ship, and without right in the common lands. 

To whom belonged each of the home and out lots cannot now 
be told, but on the diagram shown on page 37, giving a sketch 
plan of the town in 1646, the home lots are approximately desig- 
nated, as given in a list made by Chad Brown about 1646. 

Roger Williams' house was opposite the spring, and stood 
about forty-eight feet to the east of the present North Main 
Street, and about four feet north of Howland Street. Next north 
of him was the lot and house of Joshua Verin. Next south, 
that of John Throckmorton. North of Verin was the house of 
Richard Scott. South of Throckmorton was William Harris. 
Up and down the length of the town street were built the houses 
of other settlers. 

Some of the temporary houses of the u first comers" may have 
been patterned after the Indian wigwams. 

From the beginning, the colonists were obliged to maintain a 
stern struggle for existence. They had lost the season's crop 
from the seed planted at Seekonk Cove ; what they could harvest 
from the ground the first year of their settlement must have been 
a scanty supply, and they were obliged to depend largely on the 
fish and shell-fish of the Cove and rivers, the game of the forests, 
the natural productions of the earth, and what little corn and 
beans they could get from the Indians, for their food. 

They were poor. Williams had money due him at Salem but 
could not readily collect it ; probably the others were in an 
equally bad situation and they had strained their resources to the 
utmost to build at Seekonk, and to plant that seed there whose 
harvest they were destined never to gather. So poor were they 
that Winslow, Governor of Plymouth, making a visit to Williams 
that summer, at sight of their condition, felt constrained to place 
a piece jof gold in Mrs. Williams' hands, which was thankfully 
received and the gift gratefully acknowledged. 

Hardly had the colonists rested in their new habitations when 
news came that a Mr. Oldham had been murdered by Indians at 
Block Island. Williams immediately sent word of the matter to 
his friend, Governor Vane, of Massachusetts. In consequence of 
the revenge for this murder taken by the Massachusetts authorities, 
Sassacus, chief of the Pequots, organized a league to destroy all 
the whites in New England, and sought to enlist the powerful 
Narragansett nation in the scheme. In very fear for their exist- 
ence, the Massachusetts Bay Colony called on Roger Williams, as 
the one man who might save them, to prevent such an union. 
Williams immediately upon receiving this request, scarce taking 
time to acquaint his wife, went to the home of the sachems and 
for three days and nights staid with them, and in face of the Pe- 
quot emissaries, broke up their proposed league and made one be- 
tween the whites, Narragansetts, and Mohegans. Preparations for 
the war against the Pequots took up the winter of 1636-7 and it was 
not till March, 1637, that the sachems' deed to Williams was signed. 
Meantime, new comers had been arriving at the settlement. To 
some had been allotted lands and fellowship, and to prevent the 
clandestine entrance of obnoxious persons into the community, 
an order was passed prohibiting any person from selling his lot 
to any person but an inhabitant, without consent of the town. 
There was no church in this new town, but there was no want of 
religious interest, and meetings were held in the houses for relig- 
ious purposes, both on Sundays and week days. Out of this 
custom grew the first internal dissension of which we have record. 
Joshua Venn's wife claimed the right to attend, against the will 
of her husband, the week-day meetings at Mr. Williams' house, 
and because he refused to allow his wife to attend such meetings 
he was called before the town for censure. William Arnold ob- 
jected, saying, that when he had agreed to an order of the town 
that no man should be molested for his conscience he never in- 



tended that it should extend to the breach of any ordinance of 
God, such as the subjection of wives to their husbands. John 
Greene replied that if they should restrain their wives from the 
freedom the men enjoyed in such matters, all the women in the 
country would cry out against them ; whereat Arnold answered : 
44 Did you pretend to leave the Massachusetts because you would 
not offend God to please man, and would you now break an ordi- 
nance and commandment of God to please woman ? " 

Some went so far as to be of opinion that if Verin would not 
suffer his wife to have liberty, the church should dispose of her 
to some other man that would use her better, and in conclusion 
of the argument, when they would have censured Verin, Arnold 
told them that it was against their own order, for Verin did what 
he did out of conscience, and their order was that no man should 
be censured for his conscience. This reply, though witty, was 
not effective, for a vote was passed May 21st, that 44 Joshua Verin 
for breach of covenant in restraining liberty of conscience, shall 
be withheld liberty of voting till he declare the contrary." 

The excitement attendant upon this matter lasted some time, 
and pending it Roger Williams made his first, the celebrated 
initial deed to his associates. The initials of Verin cannot be 
found amongst those of this deed. Verin, disgusted, left the 
community. This incident places in a clear light some phases 
in the early life of the colonists. 

About this time, the Pequot War was carried on by the com- 
bined forces of Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Narragan- 
setts and Mohegans, and ended in the extinction of the Pequots as 
a distinct tribe. 

The little colony was now, under favorable circumstances, 
working out its "lively experiment" of the establishment of a 
democratic community, governing its members u in civil matters 
only." In form it was a strict democracy, having no delegated 
powers. The people met in town-meeting and passed whatever 
rules and orders they deemed necessary, choosing a clerk and 
treasurer at each meeting. 

In the spring and summer of 1637, new houses were built 
along the town street, fields were cultivated and the colony showed 
signs of active permanent growth. The new settlers brought 
some ready money with them ; trade was opened with the In- 
dians, and Williams was able to enlist Boston capital to aid him to 
develop the resources of the country. With Governor Winthrop 
he bought, and stocked with goats and swine, the island of Chiba- 
cuwese, or Prudence, whence, in times of scarcity, supplies of 
food might be obtained. Later, in the winter of 1637-8, Gov- 
ernor Winthrop sent further supplies to the colony, and its pros- 
pects began to look more cheering. 

At about this time the only instrument in writing now extant, 
showing the principles of their organization, was signed. It 
runs as follows, and is evidently the same in tenor as the origi- 
nal compact of organization : 

4 'We whose names are hereunder, desirous to inhabit in the 
Town of Providence, do promise to subject ourselves in active or 
passive obedience to all such orders or agreements as shall be 
made for the public good of the body, in an orderly way, by the 
major assent of the present inhabitants, masters of families, in- 
corporated together into a town fellowship and such others whom 
they shall admit unto them only in civil things." 

While this infant settlement was thus struggling for existence, 
but six short miles to the northward was a smaller settlement, 
which deserves mention on account of the similarity in its origin 
to that of Providence ; from the fact of its being on territory which, 
though then considered in Plymouth, was afterwards decided to 
belong to Providence ; and that its commencement was, perhaps, 
earlier in date than that of Providence. It was that of the Rev. Wil- 
liam Blaxton or Blackstone. Between Blackstone and Williams 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



29 







-hffi 






:j : 



3h 



r 'J J 
flu S& inU -£.'■„ %>,'/(; '^A 

s r 4 *' i 



rA-i j 4fS#i rioirr 



& 



f. tut 1 > £f* 
Vci» uj htm friff * rf £t* % ikj * ^Ctfi^Urm < ' 






\a f 






■1/l*-> 



f j1*rVopf+ 



<?m 



*S- fM. ^I^TU 






err' _* ^ f 




ijuuns 



tu,*-. 



1 



i I f/i 




1 



3t 










.,/ 










S^«S)! 




FAC-SIMILE OF THE " TOWN EVIDENCE," OR ORIGINAL DEED, (As it now sxists) from Canonlcus and Miantonomi to Rogar Williams. 



.4 



" A true Copy of the Town Evidence as followeth * 

At Nanhiggansick the a+th of the first month commonly called March, in the second 

Sir of our plantation or planting at Mooshausick or Providence. Memorandum, that we 
imaunicus and Mcauntunomi, the two chief sachems of Nanhiggansick. having two years 
•ince sold unto Roger Williams, the lands and meadows upon the two fresh rivers,, called 
Mooshausick and Wanasquatucket do now by these presents, establish and confirm the 
bounds of those lands, from the river and fields at Pawtucket, the great hill of Neotaconko- 
nutt on the northwest, and the town of Mashapauge on the west. As also in consideration 
of the many ki ndn ess es and services he hath continually done for us, both with our friends 
of Massachusetts, as also at Quinickicutt and Apaum or Plymouth, we do (recly give unto 



him all that land from those rivers, reaching to Pawtuxet river, as also the grass and mead- 
ows upon the said Pawtuxet river. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands. 

In the ptesence of The mark * of Caunaunicus. 

The mark • of Setash. The mark * of Mcauntunomi. 

The mark • of Assotemewit. 

1630 Memorandum 3. mo. pth day. This was all aarain confirmed by Miantonomi, he 
acknowledged this his act and hand, up the streams of Pawtucket and Pawtuxet without 
limits, we might have for our use of cattle. Witness hereof 

ROGER WILLIAMS. 
BENEDICT ARNOLD." 



Digitized by 



Google 



30 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



there was a remarkable degree of similarity and dissimilarity. 
Both were born in England. Each had a classical education. 
Both had been ministers of the Church of England. Each dis- 
sented from that church and came to New England in search of 
" soul liberty." Blackstone came earliest to Plymouth, before the 
settlement at Massachusetts Bay, and, unable to agree with the 
narrow views there promulgated and enforced, he withdrew and 
settled, with his family alone, on the peninsula of Shawmut, or 
Tri-mountain, as he named it. When the Massachusetts Bay 
colonists settled at Charlestown, Blackstone noted the unde- 
sirability of that locality, and at his advice and invitation the 
settlers went to Tri-mountain, where they founded the city of 
Boston. Blackstone was living there while Williams was living 
at Salem, and as the persecution against Williams grew warmer, 
the relations between Blackstone and the Bay authorities grew 
cooler, till, at the same time that Williams made his enforced 
departure from Salem, Blackstone gathered his household goods 
about him, and with his family departed to the westward, a vol- 
untary exile, firing back a parthian shot in this pithy sentence : " I 
left England to get rid of the Lord Bishops ; I leave Boston to get 
rid of the Lord Brethren." 

Making his way to the Seekonk River, he settled on its eastern 
shore near Study Hill, so named by him, built himself a house, 
which he called Study Hall, and devoted himself to study and 
reflection (that portion of the river henceforth bore his name) . 

His amusement was horticulture, and he is said to have planted 
the first orchard in this part of the country, and also originated 
a new species of apple. When weary of the solitary beauty of 
Study Hill, he would visit his friend Williams at Providence, and 
his calm, reflective, logical mind probably exercised great influ- 
ence on the enthusiastic, sanguine Williams. The friendship 
between them lasted till death, yet seldom are two friends found 
with greater points of difference. Blackstone, quiet, studious, 
courteous, and refined, in a different age and surroundings would 
have been an ornament to the highest and best society, but, then 
and there, was simply an impractical man. Williams, quick and 
enthusiastic, often reckless and careless in speech, yet gentle in 
action and wise in counsel,was the man of the times. Blackstone 
worked out the problem of soul liberty as applied to his own case 
only — his settlement never increased. Williams thought for the 
world, and his settlement grew till the influence of its primal idea 
re-acted upon and converted his very persecutors, and that idea has 
since spread like a banyan tree, taking root as it grows, till it bids 
fair to shelter the whole world from the blazing sun of religious 
persecution. Study Hill is gone. A railroad track passes over 
what was its base. No man knoweth where was Study Hall. 
Except to the student of history, Blackstone's name and memory 
are even now passing out of recollection, save as it is perpetuated 
in the beautiful river he loved, and associated with one short, 
pithy sentence, while the fame of Roger Williams has come 
sounding through the intervening centuries to the present, and 
will go resounding down the dim aisles of future ages as long as 
the English language is spoken or the English race is known. 

In 1637, new religious difficulties were experienced in Massa- 
chusetts Bay. The so-called antinomian controversy had arisen, 
and in consequence the air of the Bay Colony became as unhealthy 
for the followers of that heresy as it had been two years before 
for Williams and Blackstone. Under the leadership of William 
Coddington and John Clark, many of them determined to remove 
to the southward. Loading their heavy goods on a vessel, they 
sent it around Cape Cod while they themselves went overland 
to Providence. Received there by Roger Williams, he advised 
their settling at Sowams in Barrington, or Aquidneck Island, and 
he went with Clark and two others to Plymouth to ascertain it 
they claimed Sowams as in their jurisdiction. Finding it was so 



claimed, but that Aquidneck was admitted to be without such ju- 
risdiction, the antinomians decided to go to the latter place, and 
on March 24, 1638, commenced a settlement at Pocasset, after- 
wards called Portsmouth, on the northern end of that island. 
This colony grew rapidly, and in the spring of 1639, a portion of 
the inhabitants moved to the other end of the island and formed 
the settlement of Newport. This colony at Portsmouth agreed 
" to be judged and guided by the absolute laws of Christ," but 
this agreement being found too vague for practical use, to enforce 
these laws Coddington was elected judge, with a council of three 
elders who were enjoined by a vote of the freemen to be guided 
by God's laws. The religious difficulties in Boston caused many 
to leave there who were riot in full sympathy with the antino- 
mians, and some came to Providence, swelling the number of its 
inhabitants. In the summer of 1638, the first instance of ruffian 
violence amounting to murder, on the part of the whites towards 
the Indians, occurred in the town of Providence. Four stragglers 
from Plymouth committed the crime. The murderers were ar- 
rested at Aquidneck. The questions raised as to their disposition 
show the ideas then held as to jurisdiction. Roger Williams 
thought they should be tried at Aquidneck where captured, or at 
Plymouth where they belonged. The Aquidneck people thought 
they should be tried at Providence where the crime was com- 
mitted . Governor Winthrop thought that the ringleader should be 
given up to the Indians and the other three held for further con- 
sideration, u there being no English jurisdiction where the crime 
was committed." Unfortunately the men were delivered to Ply- 
mouth for trial, and the latter colony afterwards claimed that this 
was an admission of their right of jurisdiction. In the autumn of 
this year Roger Williams' oldest son, Providence Williams, was 
born, being the first white. male child born in the settlement. In 
this autumn, or the winter following, the first church in this col- 
ony and the first Baptist Church in America was formed. It used 
no church edifice, but the people worshiped in pleasant weather 
in a grove, and in inclement weather gathered in private houses. 
The year 1639 was quiet and uneventful and the colony grew 
and flourished, but by the year 1640, it was found that the origi- 
nal purely democratic form of government, practiced up to this 
time,' was impractical with a larger and more diverse population, 
and on the twenty-third day of July, an organization was resolved 
upon which vested the care of the general interests of the town 
in five " disposers," but with a right of appeal from their decis- 
ion to the general town-meeting. It provided that as "formerly 
hath been the liberties of the town, so still to hold forth liberty of 
conscience." It provided a somewhat complex system of arbitra- 
tion for the settlement of disputes among citizens, but, curiously, 
it provided no means of enforcing the arbitrator's award. It pro- 
vided that the disposers should hold office three months and meet 
once a month ; arranged for a division between the Pawtuxet 
purchase and the general common of our town of Providence, 
and contained other minor provisions. This agreement consti- 
tuted the town government for some years. 

During this year came Samuel Gorton, " bewitching and be- 
maddening poor Providence." Samuel Gorton was one of the 
most grotesque characters of this grotesque age. A man of great 
ability and individuality, of perfect sincerity, of strong pertinacity 
in his very peculiar views, both of religion and politics ; he was 
a man who had the courage of his convictions, and the stocks, 
the scourge, the prison, and even the overhanging shadow of the 
gallows could not make him deviate a hair's breadth from what 
he deemed to be right. He fully agreed with Roger Williams in 
his views on soul liberty and freedom of conscience, but he also 
believed that the government of the Providence Plantations was 
fatally defective in not having an authority of royal charter as its 
basis, and believing so, he did his best to destroy it, apparently 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



Ji 



never thinking of the anarchy that would follow, at least till a 
charter could be obtained, if his views were carried out. And 
yet Gorton may not have been so far wrong as his enemies have 
represented. It is certain that after a charter was obtained, he was 
one of the best and ablest citizens of the state, a sagacious coun- 
selor, a wise and able negotiator, he won the confidence of the red 
and white men alike; lived long in the land, and died respected. 
Nevertheless, his presence in Providence at this time came near 
destroying the infant state. He had settled at Portsmouth after 



The fatal defect pointed out, of its not providing means to enforce 
the arbitrator's decrees in a contest with a bold, determined man 
like Gorton, developed its weakness. Pending this excitement, 
many of the citizens, for peace's sake, moved away and settled on 
the " Pawtuxet purchase." A follower of Gorton, one Weston, 
was summoned before the disposers, his case referred to arbitra- 
tors, and he refused to perform their award. Appeal was made, 
as had been at Portsmouth, to the citizens, but with different 
result. 




RETURN OF ROGER WILLIAMS FROM ENGLAND.WITH THE FIRST CHARTER, 1644. 
From a Painting by C R. Grant. 



being driven from Massachusetts as a heretic, but on a trivial dis- 
pute arising from an act of his servant maid, and she being sum- 
moned before the court, he forbade her appearing there, went to 
the court himself, and denied its authority. There was no ap- 
peal but to the crowd of on-lookers, to whom Coddington, Judge, 
said : u All you that own the king take Gorton away and carry 
him to prison" ; and Gorton said : " All you that own the king 
take Coddington away and carry him to prison." The on-lookers 
sustained Coddington, and Gorton was imprisoned, whipped, and 
banished from the island. He came to Providence about March, 
1640, and applied for permission to become a citizen to the gov- 
ernment whose right to existence he was at that very time deny- 
ing, and was refused, when, instead of leaving, or keeping quiet, 
he began to argue the point with them, and later on, made another 
application to the same effect. This was refused for the reasons 
given, among others, that he was an " insolent, railing and turbu- 
lent person, that some of his company (followers) had insulted 
the disposers, that they had distracted and divided the town into 
parties aiming to drive away the founders, had been ringleaders 
in breaking the peace " ; and the disposer giving these reasons, 
notifies the town that he will sell out and move away if Gorton 
and his followers are received as townsmen. He led many away 
to be his followers, and probably the agreement executed as above 
described, was one attempt made to quiet the turmoil he created. 



The citizens divided, riot ensued, blood was shed, and the 
majesty of the law remained unvindicated. In this alarming state 
of affairs, thirteen of the colonists, in November, 1641, feeling 
that the town government was unable to protect them, allowed 
their fears to get the better of their discretion and appealed to 
the Massachusetts Bay government, reciting the facts, and pray- 
ing assistance and advice. The reply was, that unless they sub- 
mitted themselves to that government, they had no warrant to 
interpose in their contentions — an evident bid for such sub- 
mission, and a distinct refusal to recognize any authority in these 
plantations. 

Seeing that the result of a longer continuance of the conten- 
tions would be the ruin of them all, Gorton and his company 
soon after moved to Pawtuxet. Unable to live without quarrel- 
ing with their neighbors, they so alarmed and disturbed the Paw- 
tuxet men that four of their principal inhabitants, despairing of 
aid from Providence, and remembering the reply received from 
Massachusetts the year before, in the fall of 1642 submitted 
themselves and their lands to the government of Massachusetts 
Bay. The latter received their submission, appointed these four 
of the inhabitants justices of the peace, and notified Providence 
not to exercise jurisdiction in that country, and that, if force was 
used against them, they, the Bay, would use force to right them. 
The object of Massachusetts Bay in this action was to obtain a 



Digitized by 



Google 



32 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



hold in the Narragansett country, and an outlet into Narragansett 
Bay. 

The Gortonists, alarmed at this action, wrote a reply to ^he 
Bay, denying its rights to jurisdiction beyond its chartered limits, 
including in the reply an immense amount of abstruse theology, 
application or misapplication of biblical references, and a storm 
of the bitter invective with which the controversial documents of 
that day abounded. It was practically a defiance. This done, 
they wisely quitted the place, bought of Miantonomi a tract of 
land known as Shawomet, extending from Namquit, now Gaspee, 
Point down the bay to the end of Warwick Neck, and twenty miles 
inland, and there settled. The Massachusetts Bay authorities, 
nettled .at this defiance, procured from Pomham, sub-sachem of 
Shawomet, and Soconoco, sub-sachem of Pawtuxet, submission 
of themselves and their lands to that government, and a denial, by 
Pomham, of his having assented to the sale of Shawomet to the 
Gortonists. The hollowness of this denial is evident from the 
fact that Pomham was a witness to the deed of the land in ques- 
tion by his superior, Miantonomi, but a figure-head was all that 
was wanted, and Pomham was base enough to serve as such. 

The Bay authorities then acquainted the Gortonists of these 
facts and summoned them to answer the complaints of the 
sachems before the court at Boston. To this the Gortonists sent 
another defiance. The Bay Colony then, in September, 1643, 
sent three commissioners and an army of forty men to speak 
with the Gortonists ; lead them, if possible, to see their misdeeds 
and repent, but, if the latter refused to do so, to look upon them 
as men prepared for slaughter. The Gortonists were not of a 
class "'to see their misdeeds and repent " at the dictation of an 
enemy. Consequently the army marched to Shawomet, in the 
portion now known as Old Warwick, committed great atrocities 
on their families and goods, captured the Gortonists and carried 
them off in triumph to Boston, compelling them to march in 
irons all the way. As a specimen of the stuff that Gorton and 
his associates were made of, we would say that on their arrival at 
Boston they refused to attend church unless allowed to speak 
after the sermon. This permission was granted. They went to 
church. The Rev. Mr. Cotton preached at them in his most 
invective way, taking for a text Demetrius and the shrines of 
Ephesus. When he concluded Gorton arose, took the same text, 
applying it inversely, and preached back, flinging invective for 
invective, to the wrath and disgust of the congregation. 

Gorton was tried for heresy — the complaints of the sachems 
were forgotten — and sentenced, with some of his companions, 
to death by the magistrates, but the deputies refused to sanction 
the sentence. Gorton and six others were confined in irons, and 
threatened if they proclaimed heresy, they should suffer death. 
Their cattle were sold to defray the costs of seizure and trial. 
Notwithstanding this sentence they continued to promulgate 
their doctrines, and the authorities, not daring to execute them, 
discharged them from jail and banished them from all places 
claimed to be within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts Bay, in- 
cluding Providence and the lands of the subject Indians. 

We have been led, in order to give a connected account of the 
Gorton episode, a little ahead of events as they were transpiring 
in Providence. 

To return to the winter of 1642-43. The situation of Provi- 
dence Plantations was perilous in the extreme. Plymouth claimed 
jurisdiction over all the plantations in Narragansett Bay. The 
Massachusetts Bay Colony claimed it over the towns of Providence, 
Pawtuxet, and Shawomet, and some of the inhabitants of the last 
two districts acknowledged such jurisdiction. The experience 
with Gorton had shown the weakness of the government against 
determined internal resistance. 

The Dutch of New Amsterdam (New York) had formed 



trading posts at Dutch Island and elsewhere, threatening the 
colony in case of war. It was necessary that some authority 
should be vested in the colony that all would respect. The only 
resource was decided to be the obtaining a separate charter from 
the home government, and Roger Williams was sent to England 
for that purpose in 1643. 

Notwithstanding all Williams had done for the Bay Colony in 
the time of the Pequot War and his friendly relations with many 
of its chief men, he was refused permission to embark from Bos- 
ton for England, and was obliged to go to Manhattan, now New 
York City, for that purpose. 

He arrived in England only to find it involved in civil war. 
King Charles was practically powerless. Parliament ruled the 
realm, and the administration of the colonies was vested in a com- 
mittee of which the Earl of Warwick, " as Governor in Chief and 
Lord High Admiral of the Colonies," was chairman. From this 
committee he obtained a charter incorporating the colony of 
Providence Plantations on March 14, 1643-4, substantially cov- 
ering the territory now of the state of Rhode Island. 

It is a curious fact that a charter called the " Narragansett Pa- 
tent " was alleged to have been obtained by the Massachusetts 
Bay Colony from this colonial committee, covering the same 
territory as that obtained by Williams, and dated Dec. 10, 1643, 
three months earlier than that of Williams. If this charter was 
really granted there seems to be no good reason advanced why it 
should not have had precedence over the one granted to Williams. 
On the other hand, it seems hardly probable that a deliberate for- 
gery of a charter should ever be attempted by the agents of the 
Massachusetts Bay Colony. Yet the fact that while eagerly 
grasping every opportunity to get a foothold in these plantations, 
she never seriously pressed this claim, — contenting herself with 
a formal notification of it some twenty rnonths later, — seems to 
indicate something wrong in its inception. Williams himself 
wrote of it: " It is certain that . . . the Lord High Admiral 
President said openly in a full meeting of the commissioners that 
he knew no other charter for these parts than what Mr. Williams 
had obtained, and he was sure that charter which the Massa- 
chusetts Englishmen pretended had never passed the table." 

The charter thus obtained by Williams granted to the inhabit- 
ants of Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport, a "free and abso- 
lute charter of civil incorporation to be known by the name of 
the incorporation of Providence Plantations in the Narragansett 
Bay in New England, together with full power and authority to 
govern and rule themselves and such others as shall hereafter in- 
habit within any part of said tract of land by such form of civil 
government as by the voluntary consent of all or the greatest part 
of them shall be found most serviceable to their estate and condi- 
tion : and to that end to make and ordain such civil laws and con- 
stitution, and to inflict such punishment upon transgressors, and 
for execution thereof so to place and displace officers of justice as 
they or the greatest part of them shall by free consent agree unto." 
A larger power, a greater acknowledgment of, and freedom to 
try their experiment of a " free democratical government" could 
not well have been granted. 

With this charter, and armed with a letter of protection from 
the Earl of Warwick, Williams landed boldly at Boston and re- 
traced through the same wilderness where he had fled a fugitive 
less than eight years before, his way to Seekonk Cove. Then he 
was a homeless refugee — now the acknowledged agent of a 
colony, largely the work of his own hands, the growth of his own 
planting, with far greater powers of sovereignty than Massachu- 
setts Bay itself. The inhabitants of Providence, mustered in ca- 
noes, met him at Seekonk Cove, and in an aquatic triumphal 
procession escorted him home over the same course pursued by 
that solitary canoe whose voyage in 1636, we noted before. 



Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter IV. 



PROVIDENCE UNDER THE FIRST CHARTER, 1644-1663. 



SITUATION OF THE COLONY IN 1644 CLAIMS OF RIVAL COLONIES DIVISION AMONG THE COLONISTS — DUTCH TRADERS — THE 

INDIAN qUESTION TREATMENT OF INDIANS BY WHITES THE UNITED COLONIES OF NEW ENGLAND SKETCH OF INDIAN- 
WAR PEACE NEGOTIATED BY ROGER WILLIAMS HOME-LIFE IN THE TOWN GRIST MILL — ADOPTION OF CHARTER 

WARWICK ADMITTED ORGANIZATION OF GOVERNMENT DEATH OF CANONICUS CODDINGTON's MOVEMENT — GOLDMINE 

EXCITEMENT ACT OF OBLIVION — TOWN CHARTER OF PROVIDENCE TERRITORIAL qUARRELS CODDINGTON's NEW CHAR- 
TER APPEAL TO ENGLAND HUGH BBWITT's TRIAL CODDINGTON's CHARTER VACATED NEW JEALOUSIES LETTER 

OF HENRY VANE ACT OF TOWN FOR " PEACE'S SAKE " PRISON AND STOCKS — WILLIAMS AND HARRIS CONTROVERSY 

PAWTUXET MATTER SETTLED PROVIDENCE PROTECTS QUAKERS — CLAIMS AGAINST THE COLONY NEWLY PRESSED PROV- 
IDENCE APPEALS TO THE KING — DR. JOHN CLARKE — HE OBTAINS A CHARTER — WAMPUM ABOLISHED — REAL ESTATE 
TITLES SETTLED — WAPWEYSET BRIDGE — NEW MEANING TO PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 

Hams' heart swelled with pride as he saw the growth already 
accrued to his little settlement, and tried to pierce the mists 
of the future, and to discern what might yet become of this 
community in spite of the clouds that seemed lowering over 
its existence ; and these clouds were many and dark. 

It is true that he had obtained a charter that was all his 
heart could wish ; but the enemies of the colony were many 
and bold, both within and without its limits. 

As we have seen, the Massachusetts Bay Colony claimed 
jurisdiction over Shawomet, or Warwick, the " Pawtuxet 
Purchase," and the town of Providence itself. Plymouth had 
been prompted to insist on the claim, first advanced in 1637, 
of jurisdiction over the whole colony, and neither showed any 
disposition to relinquish their claims on account of the charter 
obtained by Williams. The home government in England 
was weak and tottering. How the civil war might terminate 
was unknown. If in favor of King Charles there was little 
prospect that a charter issued under the auspices of Parlia- 
ment would be respected. The inhabitants of the colony 
were divided. Many adhered to the Parliamentary party, 
many to that of the king, many more were afraid to take 
strong ground for either party for fear it might prove the los- 
ing one. There w r ere petty jealousies among the different 
towns of the colony, and each town was divided by warring 
factions amongst its own townsfolk, and for these reasons, we 
must suppose, the charter remained unadopted till the year 
1647. 

The Dutch of Manhattan were trading in the colony against 
the orders of the different towns, and though their trade was 
a boon, the manner in which it was carried on was a menace to 
the security of the colony. But above and over all, lowered the 
fearful Indian question. Had Williams alone to do with the In- 
dians there never would have been any trouble. He had their 
confidence and they had his. Coddington and Clarke at Aquid- 
neck, though not possessing the happy faculty of Williams with 
the red race, would never have had any serious trouble with them. 
Aquidneck was isolated from the rest of the territory and they 
had only to keep the Indians away from it ; which they straightway 




*Mj5 



THE KING PHILIP WAR — A RAID ON THE SETTLERS. 



Providence Plantations, in spite of all its drawbacks, had 
grown in the eight years since its founding to very respectable 
dimensions. In and around the town of Providence alone, we 
are told, there were one hundred and one men fit for military duty. 
In the sister settlements of Portsmouth and Newport there was a 
much greater number. In Narragansett there had been trading 
posts established by Richard Smith and Roger Williams, and 
many families were scattered on the islands in the bay. Taken 
together, it was a promising colony, and it is no wonder if Wil- 



Digitized by 



Google 



n 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



proceeded to do. Gorton, though in some respects literally at 
swords' points with Williams, agreed with him in respecting, and 
in being loved and respected by the Indians, and so with Black- 
stone. 

It was not the leaders of Providence Plantations that made the 
troubles with the Indians. It was the other New England colo- 
nies, supplemented by that disorderly element that has always 
been found on the border between white civilization and the red 
men, that caused the enmity that was gradually undermining and 
demoralizing the Wampanoags and Narragansetts, and finally 
caused their extinction at the cost of fearful suffering to the whites. 

It will be remembered that almost the first act of Williams 
after settling at Providence was to negotiate an offensive and de- 
fensive alliance between the Massachusetts colonies and the Nar- 
ragansetts against the Pequots. This resulted in the extinction ot 
the Pequots and the salvation of the whites. Canonicus and 
Miantonomi and the Narragansetts faithfully lived up to this treaty ; 
but there soon came on to the stage a set of disorderly men who 
abused both the natives and the whites, and over whom we have 
seen that the settlements of Providence Plantations did not think 
proper to exercise a punitive authority. The murder of 1638 
was followed by other outrages and murders. Robberies were 
perpetrated on the whites and charged to the Indians. As an in- 
stance, it was charged that the Indians stole two hundred goats 
from Prudence Island. Investigation showed that the resident 
agent there sold goats to ship-masters, pocketed the proceeds, and 
accounted for the missing stock by alleging its theft by Indians. 
Unfounded rumors were frequently spread abroad that the chiefs 
were conspiring against the English, and then these sovereigns, 
allies of the English, would be haughtily summoned to Boston, as 
if slaves, to account for their alleged action. Peace was main- 
tained, but it was a precarious one and such as to keep the set- 
tlers of Providence in a state of anxiety. When in 1642-3, Mian- 
tonomi sold Shawomet to Gorton, that act satisfied the Massachu- 
setts Bay authorities that he must be suppressed. First they dis- 
membered the tribe by inciting the sub-chiefs Pomham and So- 
conoco to rebel and submit themselves to that colony's jurisdic- 
tion and protection.. Second, when Miantonomi was, through 
treachery, captured by Uncas, chief of the Mohegans, also their 
ally, the latter, hesitating as to the disposition to make of him, 
delivered him to the English at Hartford, and referred the ques- 
tion to the u United Colonies of New England," meeting by 
their commissioners at Boston. That league directed the Mohe- 
gan to take and slay him, but charged him to commit the act 
within his own territory, shrewdly guessing that any revenge the 
Narragansetts might take would be upon the Mohegans, and thus 
both tribes be weakened. This decision was the more outrageous 
because, since his capture, Miantonomi had been put to ransom 
and the Narragansetts had impoverished themselves to raise the 
ransom, which had been paid to the Mohegans and received by 
them before the murderous instructions of the league were car- 
ried out. 

This league of the "United Colonies of New England" did 
not include Providence Plantations. It was formed by Massa- 
chusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven in 1643, princi- 
pally for mutual defense. 

Providence Plantations repeatedly applied to the league for 
admission, but it was always refused. Different reasons were 
given for these various refusals, but apart from the want of sym- 
pathy in views on religious freedom, one great reason was the dif- 
ference in the ideas prevailing here as to the proper treatment of 
the Indians, from those in the other colonies. 

The Providence idea was to live at peace with them and to de- 
velop peaceful relations between their several tribes ; to let Chris- 
tian civilization live side by side with Indian society till the lat- 



ter, by force of example, might be induced to accept the former 
and " we be all loving neighbors together." 

The idea of the other New England colonies was to divide, dis- 
turb, and destroy the Indian powers by helping the weaker, 
changing sides as the relative strength of the tribes varied, in 
their battles against the stronger ; by inciting insurrections of 
tributary chieftains, and fomenting rebellions on the part of sub- 
sachems, and thus reducing the powerful nations till their forces 
could be destroyed by the arms of the whites. With these radical 
differences between them there could be no sympathy between 
the New England union and Providence Plantations, and the lat- 
ter were left to their own resources for protection against a foe 
whom the former were continually goading into enmity. To add 
to their difficulties, all trade was denied to Providence by Massa- 
chusetts, even to the buying of arms and ammunition. 

The murder of Miantonomi in pursuance of the orders of the 
New England League, took place while Roger Williams was 
in England and Samuel Gorton was in jail in Massachusetts. 
The Narragansetts were inflamed with fury against the Mohe- 
gans, but, impoverished as they were by their efforts in raising 
the unavailing ransom they had paid to the Mohegans, they 
were for the time being helpless. Upon Gorton's release from 
prison he went to Aquidneck, and thence at their request he 
went to the Narragansetts* country to consult with the sachems, 
Canonicus and Pessicus, the latter being brother and successor 
of Miantonomi. 

By Gorton's advice the Narragansett sachems declared their 
submission and allegiance to the king of England upon condition 
of his majesty's royal protection ; executed an instrument to that 
effect and appointed Gorton and three others agents to carry this 
submission to England. Gorton and his companions went to 
England, partly on this mission and partly to prosecute their own 
claims for Shawomet, in which they were successful. 

In May, 1644, the Narragansett sachems were summoned to ap- 
pear in Boston. They refused to do so ; but by letter informed 
the Massachusetts authorities of their submission to the king — 
thus making themselves the peers of the Massachusetts govern- 
ment — and that they proposed to make war on the Mohegans. 
The Massachusetts government tried in vain to dissuade them 
from their purpose. Pomham and Soconoco, fearing punishment 
from the Narragansetts for their rebellion, applied to Massachu- 
setts for aid, and an officer and men were sent in July to erect a 
fort in Shawomet and remain there for their protection. The 
United Colonies succeeded in averting war for the present, but 
only temporarily, and this was the condition of affairs that Roger 
Williams found to face him on his return from England with the 
charter. 

In the spring of 1645 the war broke out. The Narragansetts 
attacked the Mohegans and defeated them with great loss. Con- 
necticut and New Haven sent troops to aid the latter. Massachu- 
setts attempted to negotiate with the Narragansetts through Bene- 
dict Arnold, one of the Pawtuxet submissionists. The Narragan- 
setts, alleging treachery on his part, sent for Roger Williams 
to negotiate for them. The United Colonies attempted to make 
peace but this attempt failed, and Roger Williams, deeming 
war inevitable, could only negotiate a condition of neutrality for 
Providence Plantations, and notified the United Colonies to that 
effect and the latter at once declared war against the Narragan- 
setts. 

Troops were armed by the United Colonies and sent to the 
front. The Narragansetts were alarmed at the activity of the 
whites as combined with their Indian allies (the Mohegans) and 
feared the results of a war. The United Colonies feared the pos- 
sible results of a conflict with the Narragansetts. Providence 
Plantations, though they had negotiated a neutrality with the Nar- 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



JS 



ragansetts, were in a position to suffer all the 
losses of the conquered in case of the failure of 
that tribe. 

Under these circumstances peace between all 
the parties was desirable. . The one man that 
possessed the confidence of all and the ability to 
negotiate a peace was Roger Williams. For him 
so to act with reference to the interests of Mas- 
sachusetts alone, as has been well said of him, 
" argues something more than human in the way 
of forgiveness." We will assume that the in- 
terests of his own colony had some influence on 
his action. He did negotiate a treaty of peace 
between the contending parties in the fall of 
1645, and the ''Indian question" temporarily 
ceased to overshadow the colony. 

Meantime the town of Providence, spite of all 
these difficulties, was slowly and steadily increas- 
ing in wealth and population. More home lots 
were laid out on the town street, and the clearings 
were extended out along the line of the Indian 
trail towards Pawtucket. 

The home lot proprietors built their little 
houses on their respective lots, setting them 
back from the road so as to give each house a 
strip of greensward around it. An orchard was 
generally planted in the rear of the house, run- 
ning up the western slope of the hill, and near 
where Benefit Street now runs each proprietor 
laid out a grave-yard where the family proposed 
to keep its dead as isolated and independent of 
all communion with other mortality as the 
owners, in their religious views, had been in 
life. 

The houses were small, built of heavy wood- 
work that was wrought chiefly with the axe and 
secured by English nails brought from the other 
colonies. They were a story or a story and a 
half in height with a huge stone chimney at one 
end and a shallow cellar beneath. Generally a 
house had but one room below and a chamber 
in the half story or attic above. Access to the 
chamber was often obtained by a ladder. Wil- 
liams' house, which is supposed to have been 
the largest in the little town, was, according to 
the traditional record of its foundations, about 
28 x 40 feet. 

The furniture of the settlers was as rude as their dwellings, 
home made, for each settler handled the axe, the hammer, and the 
saw. Rude, but solid chests and tables stood on the sanded floors. 
''Settles" took the place of the modern lounge and sofa, and 
were drawn up along the sides of the tables to furnish seats for 
the family at their meals ; chairs were as yet almost unknown in 
the houses. 

Iron kettles, wooden trenchers, articles of pottery, and among 
the wealthier class, of pewter, served all their culinary purposes. 
The wood of the forest furnished their fuel. " Pine knots their 
candles were," and under their flickering light the colonists, after 
their day's work was done, discussed the news of the civil war in 
England, the prospects of Indian 'disturbances, the weird intri- 
cacies of Gorton's religious views, the local matters of the time 
and place, and the vital distinctions of anabaptism, pedobap- 
tism, antinomianism, and the other religious sectarian doctrines 
of their day. 

In front of the house and on the town street each householder 
built him a well, except where the houses were closely gathered, 




OLIVER CROMWELL. 
Preserver #f the Territorial Integrity of these Plantations. 

and there one well would do for a group of houses. These wells 
were undoubtedly placed on the street from motives of kindness 
towards wa} r farers, but they must have tended to make progress 
at nighttime along the unlighted streets dangerous in the extreme. 
Between the house and orchard each settler placed his barn and 
out-buildings, thus gathering his most valuable property under his 
personal inspection. 

At their first coming the inhabitants had no cattle, and for the 
first few years their possessions in domestic stock were confined 
to goats and swine ; but they now possessed many cattle. The 
home lots, as soon as cleared of forest, were mostly devoted to 
fields, and the cattle were pastured on the common meadows of 
Weybosset, at the west side of the river. An old Indian trail led 
down at the north of the present Steeple Street over a "clam 
bank" which made a fording place to a neck of the island reach- 
ing to where Washington Row is now to be found, and every 
morning the boys and servants drove the cattle across this ford, 
and followed the trail round Weybosset Hill across the island 
and a ford on its west side to the meadows. Weybosset meadows 



Digitized by 



Google 



*6 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



was an extensive tract, and there was another way of reaching 
it at the north by fording the Moshassuck River at its lowest falls. 
At night the cattle were driven back to the barns of their owners. 

In the year 1646 the first public improvement in the town was 
commenced in the establishment of a grist mill under the town 
direction, by '• John Smith, the miller," at the lower falls of the 
Moshassuck. The town granted him the land and water-power. 
He was to erect and repair the mill at his own cost; the town 
promising not to erect or permit another mill. The town directed 
that the second and fifth days of the week should be for grinding 
the corn of the town, the other days to be the miller's own. The 
one-sixteenth part of every bushel was to be the toll for grinding. 
The mill was a stamping mill, and copying the action of the 
mortar and pestle, pounded the grain into meal. 

The erection of this mill fixed the business centre of the town 
at the Moshassuck Falls, and there it long remained. The first 
new street laid out was to give access from the town street to the 
mill. The first bridge built in the town was across the Mo- 
shassuck just north of the mill. Other mills, a tannery, the first 
tavern, the pound, the jail, all were located in its close vicinity, 
and the south part of the town was comparatively neglected. 

Meantime events were taking place in Old England that re- 
acted powerfully on the destiny of this little colony. We have 
noted that sentiment was divided in the colony as to the advis- 
ability of acting on the Parliamentary charter till the issue of the 
civil war became more definite. For years that war was carried 
on in England with varying successes, till in January, 1646-47, 
King Charles was surrendered by his Scottish army to the Par- 
liamentary powers. This seemed to make it safe to act under 
the Parliamentary charter, and as soon as possible after the news 
reached here a general assembly of the people was held and 
the charter formally adopted. Warwick was not named in the 
charter, but Gorton had, since its granting, practically won his 
cause in England, and had sent his colleague, Holden, trium- 
phantly home. The latter-passed through Boston under the power- 
ful safeguard of the Earl of Warwick. Shawomet was again 
taken into possession and settled by the Gortonists, its name 
changed to Warwick, after their protector, and it was admitted to 
the same privileges with the other three settlements at the open- 
ing of the session of this assembly. 

The Assembly declared that the form of government established 
in Providence Plantations is " fc Democratical,' that is to say, a 
government held by the free and voluntary consent of all, or the 
greater part, of the free inhabitants." 

They provided that the seal of the province should be an anchor, 
not a foul anchor, as by some strange mischance later crept into 
use, though now happily restored to its pristine form. 

The executive branch of the government was vested in a pres- 
ident of the colony and four assistants, one from each town. 
These officers were all elected by the General Assembly and had 
no part in legislation. The keeping of the executive power 
apart from the legislative, even to the extent of denying to the 
executive a veto power, seems to have been a radical element 
in the earliest organization of the colony. 

The General Assembly was not then, as now, an assembly of 
delegates, but was, in theory at least, an assembly of all the free- 
holders of the colony. 

Each town had a court of commissioners composed of six 
members. The combined courts of commissioners of the four 
towns composed the general court of trials, having cognizance of 
weightier offenses, and constituting a court of appeals from the 
town courts. This court met twice a year and afterwards 
developed into the lower house of the General Assembly. The 
assistants gradually ceased to be an executive body, became legis- 
lative, and developed into the higher house of the General 
Assembly. 



There was also a general recorder, a public treasurer, a general 
sergeant, and later, a general attorney and a general solicitor, ap- 
pointed for the colony. These complex arrangements were the 
struggling efforts of a community of strongly individualized citi- 
zens, with no precedents to guide them, to establish a democrati- 
cal system that should do equal justice to all and oppress none. 
That the system had elements of weakness can be easily seen, but 
it was the "lively experiment" of earnest men working out 
through their own experience a system of local jurisprudence, 
and legislative and executive powers which gradually grew more 
perfect, as in time the various stages of growth were developed ; 
and each stage was carefully and earnestly discussed by our ances- 
tors by the light of their flickering candles and the reflection of 
their glowing fires. 

A code of laws was adopted by this first General Assembly 
and provision made for the passing of general law r s. One of 
the laws, curious as showing the nature of the times, was the 
statute of archery. It required every man between the ages of 
seventeen and seventy to keep a bow and four arrows, and to ex- 
ercise with them. Every father was to furnish each son, between 
the ages of seven and seventeen, with a bow, two arrows and 
shafts, and to bring them up to shooting. The object of this 
statute was to provide a means of defense in the contingency of the 
colony being unable to provide gunpowder for firearms, as the 
United Colonies of New England refused to sell any to this 
colony, and consequently its source of supply was rendered pre- 
carious. 

The desire for public office was so little felt that heavy penalties 
were imposed on all who, after being elected, refused to accept 
public positions. 

The death of Canonicus took place June 4, 1647. 

The union of the four towns under one government did not 
settle the disputes by which they were disturbed, nor did it cause 
the adjoining colonies to cease in their efforts to dismember and 
absorb the plantations. These efforts were aided by discontented 
inhabitants of the different towns. Mr. Coddington, of Newport, 
who had been chosen president of the colony, but who never 
took his engagement as such, led a movement of the islanders of 
Aquidneck, which had now become known by the name of Rhode 
Island, in 1648, to withdraw from the .plantations and join the 
United Colonies of New England. This scheme was de- 
clined by the United Colonies on the ground that the island be- 
longed to Plymouth, and unless her jurisdiction be recognized 
the application must be refused. 

A fear of Indian war again swept over the land in 1648, but 
happily the danger was averted. 

In 1649 a g reat excitement was created throughout the colony 
by the supposed discovery of gold and silver on the island of 
Rhode Island. It was probably a* "find" of iron pyrites or 
u fool's gold," the discovery of which in those early days caused 
so many foolish excitements in the different colonies. It was 
considered of sufficient importance for the Assembly to pass an 
act taking possession of the mines and forbidding the intermed- 
dling of the inhabitants with the ore. 

The violence of party spirit had at this time compromised so 
many of the leading men in the colony that it was deemed nec- 
essary to pass " an act of oblivion," so as to wipe out old scores 
and be enabled to start afresh. 

In May, 1649, the town of Providence received its first town 
charter from the General Assembly. 

In 1650 the colony felt strong enough to open negotiations on 
the much vexed "Pawtuxet" questions, and summoned the Paw- 
tuxet men and the sachems of Pawtuxet and Shawomet before 
its court. The parties defendant appealed to Massachusetts 
Bay. The latter colony sent a peremptory order to Providence 
Plantations not to disturb their dependents in the territory in 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



37 



r 




MAP OF PROVIDENCE IN 1664, SHOWING THE LAYOUT OF THE HOME LOTS OF 

the only " roadi 

question, and then commenced a negotiation with Plymouth by 
which the territory was transferred, first by Plymouth to Massa- 
chusetts, and then by Massachusetts back to Plymouth. Why all 
this juggling transference of territory, admitted to be in the juris- 
diction of another colony should take place, can only be ex- 
plained on the theory that each province believed that any one 
of them able to get and hold the territory, would be supported 
by whatever home government might come out uppermost in the 
turmoil then taking place in England. William Coddington 
evidently had the same feeling, for he was then in England nego- 
tiating with the Council of State for a charter, which he obtained 
in April, 1651, making himself governor for life of the islands of 
Rhode Island and Conanicut. With this charter he returned and 
attempted to make himself autocrat of those islands. This action 
of Coddington suspended in part the working of the charter of 
Providence Plantations, and if sustained, threatened the founda- 
tions of the colony. 

A powerful party on the islands were opposed to Coddington's 
course, and Providence and Warwick, recognizing the danger 
that threatened their existence, joined with them in sending Dr. 
John Clarke, of Newport, and Roger Williams as agents of the 
colony, to the Council of State in England to present their claims 
and to obtain a repeal of Coddington's commission, together with 
a confirmation of the charter. Pending this appeal to England 
the islands quietly submitted to Coddington, and the mainland 
towns kept up their organization under the charter, and the other 
questions of jurisdiction were allowed to hang in suspense. 

In April, 1652, Williams and Clarke presented a joint petition 
to the Council of State which was referred to the Committee on 
Foreign Affairs. In the May session of the General Assembly 
in the year 1652, a law for the abolition of slavery was passed by 
Providence Plantations, which is believed to be the second legis- 
lative attempt on this continent, if not in the world, to produce 



THE ORIGINAL PROPRIETORS, also showing Indian trails through surrounding country, 
"at that time. 

that effect. In this year, as if to add to their other troubles, war 
arose between England and Holland, and difficulties with the 
Dutch traders of Manhattan were added to their complications. 

In September, 1652, the Council of State of England granted 
leave to the colony to go on provisionally under their charter, and 
in October the commission of Coddington was vacated. 

During the fall of this year a proposition was made by the 
colony to Roger Williams that he should get himself appointed 
by the home government governor of the colony for one year, 
hoping thus to add stability to the government ; but he, aware of 
the danger of such a precedent, as recognizing a'power in England 
to appoint rulers for the colony, declined to accept the proposal. 

During this same fall, Hugh Bevvitt, one of the committee of 
Providence, was charged with high treason, tried before the court 
of trials, and found guilty. He appealed to the court of commis- 
sioners ; a trial lasting four days resulted in an acquittal. 

In February following, the letters from England, containing the 
repeal of Coddington's commission, arrived, and there appeared 
to be no reason why the colony should not be reunited. But 
now a new jealousy arose. 

Providence and Warwick claimed that they alone were Provi- 
dence Plantations. Their charter and organization had never 
been suspended, and therefore, the General Assembly to receive 
the orders of the Council of State should be held on the main- 
land. The island towns claimed that it should be held on the 
island. Neither party would yield, and the division continued 
another year, to the eminent peril of the colony. 

In May, 1653, two distinct general assemblies were convened 
at the same time, one at Newport and one at Providence. Some 
Providence and Warwick men, dissatisfied with the Providence 
assembly, went to Newport, and assistants for those two towns 
were appointed there ; thus making two sets of assistants, one 
appointed by one assembly and one by the other. 



Digitized by 



Google 



JS 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



Mr. Coddington refused to surrender the records to the Assem- 
bly, having received no order from England to that effect or any 
proof that his commission was annulled. A more chaotic state 
of affairs than then prevailed in the colony cannot readily be 
conceived. It seemed as if, between inter-colonial, Indian, and 
foreign enemies without, and their own dissensions within, the 
Providence Plantations were doomed. Sir Henry Vane, the best 
friend abroad that Providence ever had, wrote an imploring letter, 
urging them to reconcile their feuds " for the honor of God and 
the good of their fellow-men," in which he despairingly asks : 
44 Are there nowise men among you? No public self-denying 
spirits who can find some way of union before you become a 
prey to your enemies ? " 

It would appear that there were none, for it was not till Roger 
Williams returned from England in June, 1654, that peace was 
made and a reunion effected between the contending parties. 

Williams appeared to have more influence in effecting peace in 
the rest of the colony than at home, for dissensions continued in 
the town of Providence after they were quieted elsewhere, till 
finally in June, 1655, the following vote was passed : " Whereas, 
there has been a great deal of debate this day about Thomas Olney, 
Robert Williams, John Field, William Harris, and others, con- 
cerning the matter of a tumult and disturbance in the winter, 
. . . — ; it was at last concluded by vote that for the colony's 
sake . . . and for the public welfare, and for peace's sake it 
should be passed by and no more mentioned." A little more of 
this spirit exercised a little earlier would have been a great boon 
to the colony. 

In this year all the inhabitants of the colony were required to 
sign a submission to His Highness the Protector (Oliver Cromwell) 
and the Parliament ; if any refused they were declared to be en- 
titled to 44 no benefit or privilege in any law of the colony." This 
action was caused by the fact, that upon complaints made to him, 
Cromwell had written a letter confirming the charter and promis- 
ing to protect the colony. This letter prevented further attacks 
upon the colony by its neighbors during the life of the "Protector." 
In the same year a prison and a pair of stocks was ordered to be 
erected in Providence, and in the following winter a fort was 
erected on Stamper's Hill to protect the town from the Indians. 

Previous to the year 1656, discord broke out between William 
Harris and Roger Williams, and for specimens of hearty vitupera- 
tion the charges and counter charges that passed between them 
may be taken as models. Williams, however, was president of 
the colony and as president he could and did in 1657 i ssue a war- 
rant for the arrest of Harris on charge of high treason against the 
Commonwealth of England. It does not appear that Harris had 
committed any overt act. His crime, if such it could be called, 
was in his teachings and should not have rendered him subject 
to such a course of persecution. The charge of high treason was 
subsequently dropped by mutual consent. 

In 1658, the difficult matter of the u Pawtuxet men " who had 
claimed to be under Massachusetts' jurisdiction since 164s, was 
settled by their withdrawing their allegiance from Massachusetts 
and acknowledging allegiance to Providence Plantations. 

Since 1656, the sect of the Quakers had been increasing in New 
England, and had been fiercely persecuted by the United Colo- 
nies. In Providence Plantations alone did they enjoy an unmo- 
lested retreat. 

The commissioners of the United Colonies wrote to these Plan- 
tations urging them to banish the Quakers here, and prevent any 
more entering the colony. The reply of the Plantations was that 
" Freedom of Conscience is the ground of our charter and it 
shall be maintained" Again, in 1658, Providence Plantations 
was urged to join in the persecution of the Quakers with threats 
of exclusion from all intercourse or trade with the rest of New- 
England if she refused, but the little colony stood true to her 



colors, and appealed to God and to Cromwell for protection and 
support. Many citizens of the town of Providence were personal 
sufferers in this persecution. Three of the family of Richard 
Scott suffered publicly at Boston. 

In September, 1658, Oliver Cromwell died, and all New England 
was in a state of uncertainty. What might happen in Old or New 
England none could tell. His son Richard attempted to wield 
his sceptre but after a short trial failed, retired, and in June, 1660, 
Charles II., son of the executed king, ascended the throne. 
Amongst the earliest acts of his reign was one nullifying all those 
of the Long Parliament, thereby leaving Providence Plantations 
without a charter. With matters in this condition and the pleas- 
ure of the English Government as to the future of Providence 
Plantations unknown, in 1661 Massachusetts asserted anew her 
claim to the whole of the 44 Plantations from the Pequot River 
to the Plymouth line," and in the next year Connecticut put in a 
claim that all west of the shore of Narragansett Bay belonged to 
her. But the little colony felt stronger than in its earlier days and 
boldly bade its sister colonies defiance, re-asserted its jurisdiction, 
and appealed to the king for justice. 

Besides a just cause they had the confidence that comes from 
having an able and trusty advocate. Dr. John Clarke, of New- 
port, the agent of the colony, was one of the noblest productions 
of that age. To his native abilities were added all the advantages 
of superior education and those derived from intercourse with 
men of all classes, from the common citizen to the highest rank of 
rulers. He was actuated by the highest degree of patriotism , and 
unselfishly gave his best energies to the interests of the colony of 
his adoption, and to him more than to any other individual the 
colony owed the successful attainment of its charter. Yet with 
all these facts in their favor there must have been much trepidation 
in the colony till the glad news came in November, 1663, that 
Mr. Clarke had secured for the colony a charter re-affirming in 
clear and explicit terms all the powers that had been granted in 
the former one. 

In the year 1662 three events occurred of great importance to 
the business interests of Providence. The first was the abolishment 
of the use of wampum peage as a legal tender. It had been for 
years steadily depreciating in value, and its use as currency long 
since abandoned in other colonies, but in this, the home of its 
coiners, its use had continued till the irresistible u logic of events" 
compelled its abandonment. 

The second was the quieting and securing of land titles. These 
had become so confused and so many of them rested on merely 
verbal transfers that a law was passed vesting the fee in whoever 
should, having possession, record his title, after it remained a cer- 
tain term undisputed. 

The third, which was strictly local, was the building of the first 
bridge in the town.* This was the bridge of Wapweyset over the 
Moshassuck River near the town mill and close by, if not on, the 
site of the present Stevens Street Bridge. This giving convenient 
access to the northern part of the Weybosset meadows, was some- 
times spoken of as the bridge to Weybosset, and by some later 
writers has been confounded with Weybosfet Bridge, which was 
not built till half a century later. 

With the advent of King Charles' charter the Colony of Provi- 
dence Plantations ceased to exist. The colony was afterwards 
known legally as Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and 
by common consent the title li Providence Plantations "became in 
time restricted to Providence County, and to that we shall gener- 
ally adhere in tracing its future history. 

* Bridges had existed in the town before this. Previous to 165a we find mention of 
money paid for "mending the bridge"; and as early as 1642 ciUzens were forbidden to 
cut timber " for their private use on the common lands of the town within two miles of the 
bridge," or bridges, — the word is so blindly written that it may be singular or plural* 
This bridge probably crossed the Moshassuck River at a point higher up than the Wapwey- 
set Bridge. 



Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter V. 



THE CONTINUED DEVELOPMENT, DESTRUCTION, AND RESTITUTION OF PROVIDENCE, 1663-1701. 

SYNOPSIS OF KING CHARLES* CHARTER — BOUNDARY DISPUTES — VOTES SENT TO NEWPORT TOWN DEVELOPMENTS, MILLS, BTC. 

WAR ALARMS — TOWN-MEETING FEUD — TREASURER'S REPORT 1*^1667 — ROGER WILLIAMS A TOLL-KEEPER — HIS POVERTY 
— ROGER WILLIAMS AND THE QUAKERS — NO TIME-PIECE IN THE COLONY — CALM BEFORE THE STORM — KING PHILIP'S 

WAR — NARRAGANSETT SWAMP FIGHT PREPARATIONS FOR CONTEST — PEIRSE FIGHT — NINE MEN*S MISERY BURNING 

OF PROVIDENCE — WAITING — CAPTURE AND DEATH OF CANONCHET — FATE OF THE NARRAGANSETTS — TOWN-MEETING, 
1676 — RETURN OF REFUGEES — REBUILDING TOWN — HARBOR DEVELOPMENTS BEGUN — FAST RIDING FORBIDDEN — AD- 
VENT OF LUXURIES — SLOW GROWTH OF TOWN — DEATH OF ROGER WILLIAMS — ASCENSION OF KING JAMES — RULE 
OF THE COUNCIL RULE OF ANDROS — FALL OF ANDROS PAYMENT OF TAXES — SMALL-POX PHIPPS EMBROIL- 
MENTS FIRST POST-OFFICE TOWN UNABLE TO ELECT OFFICERS PRISON EXCITEMENT STOCKS INNS — FAIRS 

WATCH FOR INDIANS PRIVATEERS AND PIRATES NORTH BURIAL-GROUND PROVIDENCE REGAINS ITS RANK IN THE 

COLONY — EVOLUTION OF LAND TITLES IN PROVIDENCE COUNTY. 



The charter of King Charles II., while far more verbose and 
voluminous than the Parliamentary one, can hardly be said to be 
more broad, but it has great advantages in the way of specific 
definiteness in many matters in which the earlier one was lacking 
in that quality. As instances : The bounds of the colony are 
given definitely, as is the right to freedom in all matters of relig- 
ious concernment ; so is the power to make such laws as, to the 
freemen of the colony shall seem meet, and to rule, order, and 
dispose of all matters and things ; a system of government is 
provided more in detail ; power is given to organize such courts 
as they shall think fit for the determining of all actions, cases, 
matters, and things happening within said colony, and to enforce 
the decisions of such courts ; to raise, equip, and direct armies, 
to declare martial law, and to destroy all persons who shall attempt 
the destruction or detriment of said colony ; to travel through and 
trade freely with all other colonies. In all cases of dispute be- 
tween this and other colonies an appeal is provided to the throne 
of England and the territory is to be held in free and common 
socage and not in capite nor by knight service, yielding and pay- 
ing therefor "only the fifth part of all the ore of gold and silver" 
which shall be there gotten, in lieu of all services, duties, fines, 
'* claims, and demands whatsoever to be to us (the King) our 
heirs or successors therefor or thereout rendered, made or paid." 
A due consideration of these powers and of the course of the 
English government in the century following the granting of the 
charter shows why our ancestors, with the most loyal feelings at 
heart towards that government in the abstract, found themselves 
in 1776, in arms against the administrators thereof. For the pres- 
ent we confine ourselves to tracing the gradual evolution of the 
events leading up to that climax. 

The settling of the boundaries by the charter did not finally 
conclude the claims of jurisdiction over this colony's territory. 
It was necessary to use the right of appeal granted by the charter. 
Upon such an appeal, in April, 1664, a royal commission was 
granted to Col. Richard Nichols, Sir Robert Carr, George Cart- 
right, and Samuel Maverick to reduce the Dutch provinces in 
America to English subjection and to determine all questions ot 



appeal and of jurisdiction and all boundary disputes arising in 
the New England colonies. Pending the action of these commis- 
sioners, still another claimant for the territory of the colony arose. 
This was the Duke of Hamilton, who claimed all the land from 
the Connecticut River to Narragansett Bay, and to the north- 
west from the head of the bay for sixty miles, thence in a south- 
west course to the Connecticut River and all islands within five 
leagues of those limits, by virtue of a deed of feoffment from 
Plymouth Council to his father in the spring of 1635. 

The seal of the colony adopted at this time was the name 
"Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" with an anchor and 
the word " Hope " above it. 

In the summer of 1664 the royal commissioners arrived in 
America and proceeded to reduce the Dutch colonies. Pro- 
vision was made to raise two hundred men in this colony to 
assist in this measure, but fortunately their services were not 
needed owing to the ready surrender by the Dutch. 

In February, 1664-5, the royal commissioners attempted to fix 
the bounds between this colony and Plymouth, but deeming it a 
hardship to the latter to adopt the line as claimed by this colony, 
adopted the east shore of the bay as a provisional line till the will 
of the king should be known. The commissioners also received 
submission of the Narragansett sachems to the king and pro- 
vided a system of ruling their country by the government of this 
colony. They settled the claims of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 
regard to Warwick by a decision in favor of the Rhode Island 
and Providence Plantations. Massachusetts appealed from this 
decision to the king and in their address to him described the 
inhabitants of this colony as " Indians, Quakers, libertines, and 
malefactors." 

This appeal was unavailing, and though there were in after 
years disputes with adjoining colonies as to portions of its terri- 
tory, from this time forth the colony of Rhode Island and Provi- 
dence Plantations was reasonably sure of its territorial integrity. 

In the October session, 1664, of the General Assembly, to save 
the freeholders from the necessity of personal attendance at the 
General Assembly election, it was provided that the freemen who 



Digitized by 



Google 



4o 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



did not attend in person might give their votes, sealed up and 
with their own name on the outside, to a magistrate, at any 
regular town-meeting, to be delivered to the executive at the 
court of election in Newport, there to be opened and counted. 
This was probably the origin of our custom of sending the votes 
of the people to Newport there to be opened and counted at 
" Newport election," when all the freemen of the state are, in 
theory, supposed to be gathered in Newport and there cast their 
votes. 

Meantime in the town of Providence new settlers were entering 
upon lands to the west and northwest of the original settlement 
and the town was increasing both in wealth and population. 
Though Providence owned no vessels at this time, yet a com- 
mercial business was carried on, probably in vessels owned else- 
where that loaded here with cargoes for the Barbadoes and per- 
haps other West India ports. The nullification of the first charter 
had raised doubts in many minds as to the validity of the town 
charter granted under it, but falling back on their old time town 
organization they had elected town officers till the General 
Assembly passed an act prescribing the election of a town 
council, clerk, constable, and sergeant in each town. 

In 1667 England being then at war with France and Holland, 
fears of an Indian war were prevalent through the state. In 
Providence a council of war was organized. The " Train 
Band " militia which had been organized under the charter- 
power to raise and equip armies, drilled into readiness for action ; 
all ammunition in private hands was required to be given up for 
public uses, and a beacon was erected on Moshassuck, now Pros- 
pect Hill, by which, in connection with others, an alarm might be 
spread over the whole colony. Fortunately these measures of 
defense proved needless. 

In June of this year there was a town-meeting feud between 
parties led by William Harris, whose difficulty with Roger 
Williams we noted in a previous chapter, and William Carpen- 
ter, assistants, on the one side ; and Arthur Fenner, the third 
assistant, on the other. This was the earliest of those squalls 
of which so many have darkened the political air of these 
plantations since then. Each party called a separate town-meet- 
ing, appointed separate town officers and delegates to the General 
Assembly. 

Harris, as assistant, entered a complaint and indictment against 
Fenner for " acting in a route" (riot) upon town-meeting day. 
A special session of the General Assembly was called to try the 
question and each set of delegates applied for admission as mem- 
bers of that assembly. The Fenner delegates were admitted. 
Fenner with his deputies were acquitted of the charge against 
them. The town officers elected at the Fenner meeting were 
declared legally chosen, and Harris was fined fifty pounds for 
causing, by issuing the indictment, the special session. Harris 
was also expelled from his office as assistant. The fine was 
never paid, but ultimately was remitted. In the next year, 1668, 
Harris and two of his partisans were chosen assistants and the 
Fenner party was dropped. It is to be noted that assistants from 
the town of Providence were elected by freemen of the colony and 
not by freemen of the town alone. Thegovernor refused to admin- 
ister the engagement of office to Harris. The deputy governor 
qualified him, apparently regardless of the governor's views. 
Warwick protested against such action and refused to acknowl- 
edge Harris as a legal officer, and the town of Providence 
petitioned the governor and council that Harris and coadjutors 
might be declared disqualified for office ; that the fine imposed as 
above might be collected, and that the three men might be pro- 
ceeded against for high treason. Evidently " politics ran high " 
in those days. Of this petition no notice was taken. 

In June, 1667. the town treasurer reported that during the pre- 



vious year he had neither received nor paid out any money, a 
singular state of affairs, to say the least. 

In February, 1667-8, Roger Williams was appointed keeper 
of Wapweyset Bridge, apparently to keep it in repair and re-im- 
burse himself out of the tolls he might receive from strangers 
for its use. Townsmen were to pay no toll but to contribute in 
labor, etc., in certain proportions towards its maintenance. It 
seems that no one else was willing to assume the burden and risk 
of so doing, and Roger Williams, true to his nature, though now 
in old age and poverty, came forward to help his fellow-townsmen 
out of their difficulty. 

The local dissensions in Providence continued. Double sets of 
town officers were appointed, and actions and indictments were 
flung back and forth between the contending parties till, after 
repeated attempts at pacification by the legislature, in 1670 
peace was restored, and William Harris was not elected an 
assistant. Roger Williams, William Carpenter, and Thomas 
Olney were so elected. 

In this year, of a colony tax of £300, £57 were assessed on 
Providence. Individually William Harris was assessed £3 10s., 
William Carpenter £2 10s., and Roger Williams 10s. When we 
consider that originally the latter owned all of the plantations 
and that he had spent his substance for the good of the colony, 
these figures speak volumes of eulogy. 

At or before 1671, a tannery had been established near the mill 
and a highway laid out going down from the town street to the 
bridge, mill, and tannery. This must have corresponded with the 
present Hewes Street. 

It will be remembered that in 1656 and later, when other 
colonies were persecuting the Quakers, that sect found refuge and 
toleration in Providence Plantations. The sect had thriven till it 
included as its members many of the leading citizens of the colony. 
Its head-quarters were on the island of Rhode Island, but its 
disciples were scattered all over the mainland towns and the 
colony was often spoken of as approving of their doctrine. 
Roger Williams felt called upon to make clear the distinction 
between toleration and approval, by attacking the tenets of the 
sect with as much zeal as he had showed firmness in defending 
the bodily safety of its members. George Fox, its originator and 
leader, was in this colony in 1672 and Williams challenged him to 
a public disputation of doctrines to take place partly in Newport 
and partly in Providence. At the age of more than three score 
years and ten, the " old man," as he was denominated in the 
debate by his opponents, rowed himself to Newport to enjoy his 
polemics. The challenge had not been delivered to Fox and he 
had left the country in ignorance of it, but Williams went for a 
discussion and he was accommodated. Quakers were there ready 
and willing to dispute with him. For three days the dispute was 
kept up in Newport and then adjourned to Providence where it 
was afterwards concluded. The record of this controversy is 
preserved in two works : one by Roger Williams entitled George 
Fox digged out of his Burrowes, and one by George Fox and 
John Burnyeatej the latter of whom took part in the discussion, 
entitled A New England Firebrand Quenched, both of which 
works redound more to the credit of their authors for zeal and 
powers of invective than for logical acumen or discretion. The 
result was the usual one in such discussions. Each side was 
satisfied that it was right. To us, one of the most interesting 
points revealed in the above record of the discussion is a state- 
ment of Roger Williams from which it would appear that there 
was not a watch, clock, nor " quarter-glass " to be had in New- 
port. As Newport was its wealthiest place there was probably 
none in the colony. 

After this episode came a period of peace and steady develop- 
ment of the country. Joseph Jencks bought land in Providence 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



4i 



(at Pawtucket) and established a forge and 
saw mill there and was able to furnish the 
colonists with many articles of hard and 
woodenware that before then could only be 
obtained at great expense of importation. 
There was some alarm in 1673, caused by a 
Dutch fleet that was hovering off the coast, 
but the conclusion of a peace between Eng- 
land and Holland early in 1674 dissipated all 
anxiety on that score. All then seemed to 
indicate a long career of prosperity to Provi- 
dence, but it was the delusive calm before a 
storm. The most destructive tornado was 
about to burst upon these plantations that 
they have known since their settlement. It 
was the old storm cloud — the Indian problem 
— that was gathering its forces to break upon 
them in ruin. Before it broke, one of the 
actors of this historical drama, William Blaf k- 
stone, the recluse and scholar, peacefully 
passed to the future world from his home of 
Study Hall, ripe in years and reflection, and 
happy in that he did not live a few weeks 
longer to see his settlement destroyed by the 
Indians with whom he had always lived at 
peace, and amongst whom he had found that 
opportunity for calm self-development denied 
him in contact with his own race. 

Metacomet or Philip of Montaup (Mount 
Hope), the son and immediate successor of 
Mas'sasoit, chief sachem of the Wampanoags, 
having seen tract after tract taken away from 
his dominions by the English and in his own 
words, " determined not to live till he had no 
country," had been planning for years a war 
of extermination against the whites. The 
war opened in Plymouth in June, 1675, and 
Swanzea was utterly destroyed. To prevent 
the Narragansetts from joining the Wampa- 
noags, an army of the "United Colonies" 
league, in violation of the rights both of this _ 

colony and of the Narragansetts, marched into — z " ; ""* 

their country and extorted from them a treaty 
of alliance by which they became bound to 
deliver up any of Philip's subjects who might 
come within their power. This army then went in pursuit of the 
Wampanoags. Hamlet after hamlet, town after town, and 
troop after troop of men were destroyed by the Wampanoags in 
Plymouth and Massachusetts. 

Providence Plantations as yet found its security in the affection 
of the Narragansetts. The latter, however, were thoroughly exas- 
perated against the United Colonies and determined to disregard 
the treaty that had been forced upon them. Accordingly when 
the Wampanoags sent their women and children to the Narragan- 
setts for protection from the whites they were received, and to the 
demand of the league that they be surrendered, the haughty 
Canonchet, son of the murdered Miantonomi, declared that "not 
a Wampanoag nor the paring of a Wampanoag's nail should be 
delivered up." Thenceforth the league considered the Wampa- 
noags and the Narragansetts as one — an enemy to be extermi- 
nated. Against the chartered rights of Rhode Island and Provi- 
dence Plantations, against the rights of the Narragansetts under 
their submission to royal authority, and in violation of the guar- 
antees of the king himself, the United Colonies of New England 
in December, 1675, raised an army of over eleven hundred men 




>.-.;:—- 



CHARLES II., 
King of England, Grantor of the "Charter." 

and marched them through this colony to attack the Narragansetts 
in their winter quarters which were in a swamp in what is now 
South Kingstown. As a portion of that army marched through 
Providence and Warwick many inhabitants of those towns were, 
through fatal error or wicked perverseness, induced to join it as 
volunteers. 

The neutrality of Providence Plantations had been strictly ob- 
served by the Indians, and no warlike blow was struck on its soil 
till after its inhabitants had thus joined the forces of their enemies. 
Could Roger Williams and Samuel Gorton have been gifted with 
power to have controlled those thoughtless and irresponsible men 
how different might have been the result ! 

The winter quarters of the Narragansetts, improperly called a 
u fort," consisted of an island covering three or four acres of 
ground and rising but a few inches above the high water level of 
the swamp in which it stands. It is about a quarter of a mile to 
the west of the present railroad at a point nearly a mile and a half 
southerly from the Kingston station. 

The greater part of this island was covered with wigwams in 
which lived the natives and in which were stored the reserves of 



Digitized by 



Google 



42 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



grain and food belonging to the tribe, collected for their winter 
subsistence. Partially surrounding it was a rude hedge fence of 
dead bushes and branches with a few rude block-houses, built in 
clumsy imitation of those of the whites, to protect its weakest 
points. There was a long gap in the hedge and no protection 
was found in the surrounding swamp as it was frozen so that the 
troops could march over it. The only protection at the gap was 
a long tree trunk laid in it, one end resting at each side of the gap 
and at a height from the ground such that an attacking force 
could either creep under or leap over it. In this fort were 
gathered the old men, women, and children of the tribe and prob- 
ably the women and children of the Wampanoags, with some 
Narragansett warriors. This " refuge " was attacked on Sunday, 
Dec. 19, 1675. The white troops gallantly marched across the 
frozen swamp, through the gap and passed under or over the tree 
into the fort. They were driven out by the Indians, again 
advanced, and after some three hours' "fighting" at this point 
some one set the hedge or one of the wigwams on fire. The wind 
was from the northeast — the fire was set on the northeast side 
of the island and leapt from one inflammable wigwam to another 
till it spread over the whole place ; the winter stores of pro- 
visions were destroyed, the savages fleeing from the burning fort 
shot or driven into the swamp to perish of hunger or cold, 
and " it was a glorious victory." This is in brief the history 
of the battle as given in letters of Massachusetts soldiers and 
officers who took part in it and wrote " whereof they knew." 
The loss of the Indians in the battle will never be known. It is 
estimated that one thousand perished, of whom three hundred or 
more were burned. The loss of the whites was just eighteen 
killed in the fight and fifty died after, probably mostly from suf- 
fering caused by the precipitous retreat of some sixteen miles, to 
Wickford, which this conquering army judiciously made before 
they slept, on the night of what a Massachusetts authority con- 
siders u one of the most glorious victories ever achieved in our 
(Massachusetts) history." 

A pitiless war was now fairly entered upon. The exasperated 
Narragansetts ranged the forests, and it was known that those who 
survived the hardships of the winter would spare neither age nor 
sex of the whites who fell within their power. The army of 
the league remained in Wickford till reinforced and resuscitated, 
when they marched off and left the inhabitants of these plantations 
to their fate. The inhabitants of Warwick, leaving a garrison in 
one stone built house, removed bodily to the island of Rhode 
Island and there kept up their town organization for fifteen 
months till the war was over. 

The town of Providence made an urgent appeal to Governor 
Coddington for help but the latter felt, perhaps justly, that there 
was not more than force enough on the island to secure it from 
the foe ; that by dividing his force he only ran the risk of losing 
everything, and that he could properly do no more than to offer a 
refuge on the island to all the inhabitants of the mainland towns. 
This he cheerfully did. The women and children and all the 
men of Providence except some thirty or thereabouts, of whom 
we have the names of twenty-seven in a list of those " who 
staid and went not away," fled to the island. 

The island was placed under martial law and a naval service of 
armed boats kept a constant patrol surveillance around it. There 
were two houses in Providence deemed capable of serving as 
garrison houses. One was the fort whose erection on Stampers 
Hill we have noted on page 38, and of this Roger Williams, who 
was captain of the train band, took command with a portion of 
the townsmen who remained. The other was that of William 
Field, near the present foot of Hopkins Street, where Captain 
Arthur Fenner with the other remaining men were posted. Dur- 
ing February and early March, 1676, N. S., the war was 



carried on mainly in Massachusetts, and consisted of a series of 
victories for the Indians. On March 16th, O. S., the town of 
Warwick was attacked and every house except the stone one 
mentioned was burned and one white man killed. On Sunday, 
March 26th, O. S., Captain Peirse with a force of whites and 
friendly Indians was ambuscaded on the Massachusetts side of 
the Blackstone River, near where the Boston and Providence 
Railroad now crosses the same, by the Narragansetts under 
Canonchet. Finding themselves over-matched in the woods on 
that side they crossed to the level plain on the west of the river 
which was free from forest, and forming a circle, facing outward, 
fought against the surrounding horde of savages for hours. As 
man after man was killed they contracted their circle till it 
became so small that all hope was given up and the survivors 
made a dash for the woods on the hill to the west. But one 
white man is known to have escaped. He reached Providence 
and gave the inhabitants the first news of the battle. Nine are 
believed 'to have been captured alive by the Indians, taken to a 
swamp in Cumberlani, and tomahawked at a rock in a dell on 
some rising ground in the swamp, which rock has since been 
known as the Nine Men's Misery. The bodies of these men 
were afterwards found at the rock by the whites and buried on the 
hill to the northward of the "Misery." The place of burial is now 
marked by a low mound of loose stones.* 

On the following Wednesday an attack was made on Provi- 
dence. It is said that when the Indians approached the town, 
Roger Williams went out alone and unarmed and tried to induce 
them to make peace by representing the smallness of their num- 
bers compared with that which their enemies could bring against 
them and received the reply, " Well, let them come, we are 
ready for them, but as for you, Brother Williams, you are a good 
man ; you have been kind to us many years ; not a hair of your 
head shall be touched." Williams returned to his fort, and there 
appears to have been no actual attack upon either of the gar- 
risoned houses, but the town was effectually burned by the 
Indians. Exactly what was the number of houses destroyed can- 
not be determined. One account says all but five. Allowing 
two of these to be the garrisoned ones we are led to the conclu- 
sion that every house out of musket range of the fortified houses 
was destroyed. There are curious points connected with this 
burning of the town. First, in view of the fact that a desperate 
assault had been made upon the fortified house of William Car- 
penter near Pawtuxet, in the vicinity of the present Roger Wil- 
liams Park, one man killed, the house burned and the inmates 
driven to Providence only a short time before, and of the desper- 
ate and prolonged fight and massacre of Peirse's force hut a few 
days previous, it is strange that no attack was made on the garri- 
soned houses, at least the Fenner one. Second, John Smith, the 
miller, was town clerk and lived in a house opposite the mill on 
the west side of the Moshassuck River. His house was burned. 
The town records were in the house. They were partially 
burned and saved from total destruction by being thrown out of 
the window of the house into the adjoining mill-pond, and in the 
words of Staples, u bear plenary evidence of the two-fold dangers 
they escaped, and the two-fold injury they suffered." 

Who saved those records? The Indians would not, and it 
would seem that if Indians fired the house, knowing that white 
men were within, they would not have allowed the latter to have 
thrown the records into the pond and then have escaped alive and 

* Some of the bones, it is not known how many, have been removed from this grave. 
A skull, bearing marks of the tomahawk, and certain bones, which to the knowledge of 
the author were taken from the grave, are now in the museum at Brown University. The 
author has heard of other bones and complete skeletons being taken thence but has been 
unable to trace them. This note is entered that if ever in future, excavations are made at 
the grave and the number of skeletons is found incomplete the cause thereof may be 
known. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



41 



unhurt to the fort. We have no record of a single man, 
except at the Carpenter house and Peirse's fight as above 
described, being killed, captured, or wounded in the town 
of Providence. 

It would almost seem as if the Indians had deter- 
mined to punish the people in Providence for the part 
taken by some of them in the war, but out of regard to 
past friendship would not carry that punishment to the 
point of inflicting death. 

This was the darkest time of the war. Except the 
trading post of Richard Smith near Wickford, the stone 
house in Warwick, and the few buildings in Providence, 
not a single house was left standing on the mainland of 
the colony ; even Blackstone's old home had been de- 
stroyed by fire and from thence to the furthest bound of 
Westerly, desolation and ruin reigned over all the former 
homes of the inhabitants. Yet the Providence men 
under Roger Williams and Arthur Fenner in their two 
garrison houses still u stayed and went not away," wait- 
ing with firm faith in God's providence for the "silver 
lining" of the cloud of adversity to show itself. 

Nor had they long to wait. The doom of the Indians 
had sounded and was rapidly overtaking them. Six days 
after the burning of Providence the noble hearted Canonchet was 
surprised and captured by Connecticut troops in the neighborhood 
of Pawtucket. He was offered his life on condition that he would 
procure the submission of his tribe to the league, and rejected the 
offer with disdain. He was carried to Stonington and by a coun- 
cil of war condemned to be shot. When told of the decree of the 
council he answered : " I like it well ; I shall die before my heart 
is soft, or I have said anything unworthy of myself." 

His death was decreed by the " United Colonies." He was shot 
by the Pequots ; decapitated and quartered by the Mohegans ; 
and by the Niantics under Ninigret, who claimed to have Narra- 
gansett blood in his veins, the body was burned and his head 
sent as a token of love and loyalty to the commissioners of the 
league. 

After the death of Canonchet, came, in rapid succession, a 
series of reverses to the Indian power, and in four months it was 
destroyed and King Philip slain. 

With the death of these two chieftains the Indians lost all hope 
and courage, and, excepting a few who kept up the fight a few 
months longer, the rest doggedly accepted their fate. The car- 
nage and suffering that the Indians had inflicted upon the whites 
was retaliated upon them in ten-fold force. The leading sachems, 
as fast as captured, were executed. The lesser captives were 
exported to other colonies to be sold as slaves ; and the number 
slain and left to rot like dead dogs in the woods cannot be esti- 
mated. 

Never were a people more thoroughly extirpated than were the 
Narragansetts. When, in after years, it became expedient for the 
whites to have some representation of the Narragansetts as a 
figure-head, that people could not be found. They were obliged 
to set up Ninigret and the Niantics, who, as we have seen, were 
allies of the league, to masquerade as Narragansetts, and the 
tribal organization that was kept up till within a few years, as of 
the original nation, was more properly Niantic than Narragansett. 

In April, 1676, the little band at Providence " that remained 
and went not away " again applied to the government of the col- 
ony for a garrison to hold the forts. It was deemed safe to grant 
this request and a garrison of ten men was maintained by the 
colony as long as danger from the Indians was feared, till the 
following October. The presence of this garrison enabled the 
townsmen to devote themselves to planting their fields and repair- 
ing the damage done by the war. 




THE SITE OF THE OLD SWAMP FORT, SOUTH KINGSTOWN. 
Scene of the Great Swamp Fight in 1675, the Last Battle of the Narragansett Nation. 

The annual town-meeting in June of this year was held 
" before Thomas Field's house, under a tree by the water side." 
This house, one of the few left undestroyed by fire, was next 
south of the William Field garrison house and stood about 
opposite of the present Crawford Street. 

At this town-meeting provision was made for the disposal of 
certain Indian captives held in the town by selling them into a 
limited slavery of from six to twenty-five years, according to age. 
This action only referred to a very small number, and is interest- 
ing mainly as showing the comparative mildness with which 
Indian captives were here treated. By other colonies they were 
doomed either to instant death or to perpetual slavery in foreign 
countries. 

After the death of Metacomet (King Philip) in August, the 
refugees began to return from Rhode Island, and more strenuous 
efforts were made to commence the rebuilding of the town. The 
mill and tannery were rebuilt. The houses and barns and out- 
buildings that had been burned were replaced as fast as the pro- 
prietors found means to do so with larger and more substantial 
ones. Houses of two stories and a garret, with two rooms to a 
floor, now began to be erected. The town records were brought 
back from Newport in June, 1677. Danger from Indians was 
now deemed past, new-comers came to the town and settlements 
began to arise in the outlying portions. The commerce of, and 
travel to the town from Boston and Plymouth increasing the 
ferriage facilities at narrow passage, now Red Bridge, which had 
theretofore depended on the chance of a passenger finding a boat 
on his side or being able to attract attention and a boat from the 
further one, were, in 1678, made more definite by the grant of land 
and a ferry franchise to Andrew Edmonds, an ex-soldier of the 
King Philip War, on condition that he keep up the necessary 
ferry accommodations. A decided change in the direction of the 
tendenc}' to improvement in the town was noticeable in this 
revival of its interests. Before 1676 the tendency had been 
northward from the home of Roger Williams. The mill, the 
tannery, Wapweyset Bridge, the taverns, and the closest congre- 
gation of houses were all in that section of the town and the 
growth had been greatest along the path, or road, that followed 
the Indian path, or trail, leading to Pawtucket, while many of the 
home lots to the southward had never been improved by the erec- 
tion thereon of homesteads. After that time the tendency was 
distinctly in the opposite direction, and so much so that many of 



Digitized by 



Google 



44 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



the houses on the north road were not rebuilt or replaced till very 
modern days. In the memory of men lately living, the founda- 
tions of houses burned in 1676 were standing in vacant lots on 
that road. 

The harbor and maritime facilities of the place at this time 
began to attract attention and development. Heretofore the only 
artificial harbor facilities known, if such they could be called, were 
the utilizing of some rock that projected into the water so as to 
afford a landing-place at all stages of the tide, by drilling into it 
and securing a ring-bolt or staple to which canoes or boats could 
be moored ; but in 1679 Pardon Tillinghast built the first ware- 
house and wharf erected in Providence. It was located on 
the west side of the town street opposite his house and about 
where Transit Street now lies, to the west of South Main. Joseph 
Jencks had reestablished himself at Pawtucket and continued 
the development of its water-power by the erection of a better 
saw mill and forge than those destroyed by the Indians. Farmers 
settled in the " north woods" to the west and northwest of the 
same. William Carpenter and sons erected a saw mill, probably 
at Pawtuxet, and a third, which was probably at or near the mill 
of John Smith, was in existence. 

These mills furnished in large part the cargoes of the outgoing 
vessels landing at Pardon Tillinghast' s wharf, and it is amusing, in 
view of the fact that the country was then covered with forests, 
that in 1679 Daniel Abbott, then town clerk, prays the town to 
erect a town house "before the boards and timber be most all 
sent out of the township." One was erected more than fifty 
years later, " but before the boards and timber were most all sent 
out of the township." 

The transit of goods to and from this wharf must have made 
the town street seem a busy place to our forefathers and it w r as 
deemed an unsafe place for fast traveling, for we find the first 
town ordinance on the subject, passed in 1681, forbidding riding 
at a gallop between the houses of John Whipple (now Star 
Street) and Pardon Tillinghast. 

With their commerce came the control of more facilities for 
domestic comfort and greater luxuries, spinning wheels andcard$ •" 
for making the wool of their flocks into yarn became more 
common. Looms for weaving cloth were not unknown. Frying- 
pans, gridirons, spits, and skillets added to the facilities of the 
culinary department of the humbler homes, spoons, dishes, and 
platters appeared more commonly on their tables, cider presses 
were in use, and we have recorded evidence that in 1681, 
William Harris, whose hot contest with his fellow-colonists we 
have noted, possessed a warming-pan. Pine wood was still 
used for candles, for the town, on Dec. 14, 1681, in town-meeting 
assembled, having heard that some are determined to propagate 
the running of tar from pitch wood, prohibited the same in order 
that they might not be deprived of their pitch wood for candle light. 
With all this activity, the resuscitation of the town was a slow 
process. In 1670, of a colony tax of .£300, Providence paid £57. 
In October, 1678, of a colony tax of £300, Providence paid JC10. 
In 1680, of a colony tax of £100, Providence paid £7, and it was 
not till 1 701 , when of a colony tax of £400, Providence paid JE65, 
that Providence occupied the relative position in regard to the 
other towns of the colony as in 1670. Tax statistics are generally 
dull reading, but there is a poetry in these, for they epitomize the 
struggling revival of the town's prosperity as no words could 
do it. 

In 1683, the passage of travelers to and from the narrow 
passage ferry, now Red Bridge, had so much increased that it 
was deemed necessary to " state" (declare) a highway from that 
place to " Ferry lane" now Hope Street. This was done sub- 
stantially on the site of the present South Angell and Angcll 
streets. 



In this year Roger Williams, full of years and honors, passed 
quietly away from this life. All the inhabitants of the colony 
turned out to honor and to mourn for him. On the shoulders of 
his friends and neighbors the rude coffin containing his mortal 
remains was carried from his home up the steep hillside, and 
placed in a grave in his burying-ground, there to remain till, 
assimilated into new forms, their elements came forth to gladden 
and refresh mankind. We cannot point to the ashes of Roger 
Williams preserved in storied urn, but we feel that the elements 
that composed his body in conserving the comfort and use of man- 
kind, have fulfilled the destiny he would have preferred for them 
infinitely more than to have had them locked in the stony embrace 
of the pyramids. We attempt no eulogy of him. Providence 
Plantations is his monument and his eulogy. 

Politically, Providence enjoyed a state of quietude from the 
time of King Philip's War till after the death of King Charles in 
February, 1684-5, an( * tne accession of his brother, James II. 

The change of rulership inaugurated a change of royal policy 
in England both as to the home government and that of the colonies. 
The first direct step with regard to this colony was taken by 
Edward Randolph, who procured the issuing of writs of quo war- 
ranto against this and other colonies for the purpose of revoking 
their charters. A council with Joseph Dudley as president was 
appointed for provisionally governing portions of New England. 
Dudley came over to this country, and in June, 1686, assumed 
the government of Narragansett or King's Province in pursuance 
of the terms of his commission. He had sent Edward Randolph, 
the secretary of the council, to Newport with its order upon the 
quo warranto and a summons requiring the freemen of the 
colony to act upon it. It chanced that the June adjournment of 
the General Assembly met at the time of meeting of the freemen 
under the summons. On consultation the freemen left the matter 
in the hands of the Assembly. The latter determined not to 
stand suit with the king, which would have been not only useless 
but probably have provoked greater severity from his tyrannous 
administration, but to proceed by humble address asking of him 
a continuance of their charter privileges. 

This legislature passed an act providing for the local govern- 
ment of the several towns by their citizens and then dissolved. 
After this during the reign of James II., there was no session of 
the legislature. The charter was practically suspended, and the 
different towns of the colony were, so far as self-government 
went, thrown back upon the general system that prevailed before 
the issuing of the first charter. 

The provisional government by the council was soon superseded 
by the appointment of Sir Edmund Andros, in 1686, as Royal 
Governor of New England, with power to take this colony under 
his government and demand the surrender of its charter. That 
opinions were divided as to the best course to pursue in these 
chaotic times is shown by the fact that in October, 1686, an 
address was sent to the king by some of the people of Providence, 
resigning their charter, asking to be annexed to the general New 
England government, and disowning the Assembly's address. 

Governor Andros arrived in this country in December, 1686, 
and proceeded for two years and four months to govern the 
country in violation of the principles involved in the different 
colonial charters. It does not seem from a careful study of his 
government that it was unjust or unwise. Andros as a man was 
kind, forbearing, liberal in his views, especially on matters of 
religious toleration, and doubtless governed by an ardent desire to 
benefit the subjects he ruled over ; but it was his rule not theirs 
that he was enforcing, and the determination to have a govern- 
ment of the people was so strong in New England that they pre- 
ferred to sutler from a harsh government, in which, however, 
they themselves took part, rather than to enjoy his mild adminis- 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



AS 



tration. Probably, too, they thought that his mildness might be 
accidental to him, and that if they once yielded the principle 
involved in his appointment, the next governor might be a tyrant 
in fact, and as well as in principle. Towards Rhode Island and 
Providence Plantations Governor Andros was especially courteous 
and kindly. He sustained her rights against the neighboring 
colonies, and others who had revived old claims and made up new 
ones to jurisdiction in different parts of her territory. He chose 
of her citizens five out of the nineteen members of his council. 
His letter demanding the surrender of the charter was a model of 
politeness and was met by equal politeness from Governor 
Clarke. Upon Andros* visit to Newport to receive the charter, 
Governor Clarke immediately upon hearing of his arrival, sent 
that document to his brother with instructions to conceal it in 
some place to him (the governor) unknown, but in the knowl- 
edge of the secretary. He then waited upon the royal governor 
and invited him to his house. There he made in the presence of 
Governor Andros a thorough search for the charter but was 
unable to deliver it as he did not know where it was. As may be 
easily surmised it was not found so long as Andros remained in 
Rhode Island, but shortly after his departure it again found its 
way to the hands of Governor Clarke. 

Andros' power was confirmed and enlarged by a new com- 
mission in 1688, and he continued his government very much at 
his own will, levying and increasing taxes, changing province 
and state lines, and doing many other acts contrary to what the 
people considered their rights, while the latter sullenly submitted 
and quietly bided their time. It came at last. The revolution in 
England, in the spring of 1689, overthrew the power of James. 
As soon as the news thereof was received in Boston, where 
Andros then was, he was seized and imprisoned. Upon receipt 
in Providence of the news of Andros' arrest, a party of our 
citizens seized Dudley, the Andros justice, and took him to Rox- 
bury, whence he was committed to prison. 

A call was issued for a General Assembly to gather u before 
the day of usual election by charter." They met and resumed 
the charter government, and sent an address to the supreme 
power of England praying it might be confirmed to them, which 
request was granted. 

Andros made an escape and fled to Rhode Island, but instead 
of finding harbor there he was recaptured at Newport and sent 
back to Boston. During the time of Andros but little of note 
occurred in Providence. Under a despotic government there 
could be but little political interest. So little that in 1689 no 
town officers were appointed, and the inhabitants, having nothing 
else to do, devoted themselves to acquiring wealth and the 
development of their town. The return of a poll tax assessed in 
January, 1687, shows 127 polls; in July of the same year, 181. 
Owing to the scarcity of money, these taxes, and, in fact, all pre- 
vious ones, were payable in produce and the rate at which the 
produce was received was generally fixed in the tax-rate ; thus, a 
tax in October, 1687, was payable in corn at two shillings, and 
rye at two shillings eight pence per bushel, beef at one and one- 
half penny per pound, pork, at two pence, and butter at six pence 
per pound. 

How the tax collector realized on the goods received in 
payment does not appear, though in later days where the 
amounts collected were larger, they were sometimes authorized 
to make shipments of them to foreign ports for that purpose. 

In 1690 the small-pox broke out in Newport and raged 
throughout the island as a veritable plague, and the October 
session of the General Assembly was consequently held at Provi- 
dence, meeting at the tavern of John Whipple about halfway up 
the present Constitution Hill. 

In 1691 Massachusetts and Plymouth were united under one 




HOUSE BUILT BY JOSEPH, SON OF ROGER WILLIAMS, ABOUT 1680. 
Formerly standing opposite Roger Williams Park, Providence. Demolished May, I 886. 

charter, and Sir William Phipps was made governor of it with a 
commission making him commander-in-chief of all the land and 
naval forces in New England. This was in direct violation of our 
charter, and to our citizens looked as if there might be another 
Andros administration to contend with. This colony stood up 
bravely for its rights and appealed to royalty for justice. For- 
tunately it was decided to be an error made by the home govern- 
ment and the cause of the charter was sustained. 

Early in the year 1693 the first postal arrangements in the 
colonies were established, and the king's post came regularly 
from Boston crossing the Seekonk at Edmond's Ferry at narrow 
passage, and going over the great salt river on the line of the 
" Pequot path " towards Connecticut. The service extended 
from Boston to Virginia. The rates were high — from Provi- 
dence to Boston sixpence per letter, and in proportion to other 
places, with a house delivery system after a letter had laid in the 
post-office two days uncalled for, which delivery cost one penny 
extra. 

In this year another curious political incident took place. At 
June town-meeting, a town sergeant and constable were elected. 
The parties elected refused to serve. Another meeting was called 
to complete the election. Every party elected refused to serve, 
till after having met three days with like result of each meeting, 
the town decided itself " constrained to cease further choice and 
leave the matter to issue as it may." 

The same spirit seems to have ruled in 1695, when the town 
being engaged in deciding upon the location of a prison ordered 
to be erected by the General Assembly, u obstruction was made 
by Samuel Windsor against the same, thereby causing such a 
tumult amongst the people that the moderator was put upon to 
dissolve the meeting." There was no prison in the plantations 
till the year 1699, but a pair of stocks had been erected on the 
common lands forming the south side of Dexter's lane (now 
Olney Street) at its junction with the town street in 1684, and 
here whatever punishment the law required was inflicted. By 
the stocks stood the town pound. Across the way on the other 
side of the lane stood the hostelry of Epenetus Olney, while 
William Turpin, first school-master in the town, tavern keeper, 
legislator, and general mentor of the community, kept a " house 
of entertainment" on the opposite side of the town street, near 
the present corner of Hewes and North Main streets. 

On this common land then called " highway," and in the high- 
way against John Whipple's house which was the third tavern 
halfway down the hill, and in the highway against William Tur- 



Digitized by 



Google 



4 6 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



pin's house, in the years iSyS-'yj and '98, were held annual fairs 
with a " clerk of the market" appointed by the town. Why these 
fairs were given up we do not know, but the fact that they were 
holden shows that there must have been a large influx of people 
and property over what the town could show a few years before. 

Providence Plantations was still a border country, and, though 
the Indians within its borders had lost all power of disturbing 
the peace of the country by warlike movements, during the long 
war between France and England that had been waged since the 
year 1690, fears of an eruption of the northern Indians under 
instigation of the French in Canada kept the citizens on the alert. 
A warrant dated April 24, 1697, is still extant, directed to twenty- 
one of the principal inhabitants of Providence as commanders of 
scouting parties composed of ten men each, who were to range 
the country beyond the limits of the plantations in pursuit of 
Indians ; each company serving for two days at a time and the 
leader of each on his return to transfer the commission to the 
captain of a company whose name stood next in order upon it. 
This service was continued long afterward. It shows not only 
the alarm of the inhabitants, but that the plantations had grown 
so as to be able to keep on foot what was practically a standing 
army of 210 men. 

During this war the colony began its first experience in naval 
warfare. Many privateers were fitted out, probably mostly from 
the island, though citizens of Providence served in them. The 
actions of some of these privateers were claimed to be too broad 
for even the loose notions of the laws of privateering then extant, 
and our bay furnishing peculiar facilities as a resort for those 
rovers of the sea, the colony then obtained the unenviable reputa- 
tion, which it retained long after any occasion for it had gone by, 
of being a " nest of pirates." This reputation was enhanced 
by the actions of the notorious Captain Kidd, who in 1698 came 
openly and boldly (though some say lured by treachery) into 
Rhode Island. He was arrested on a visit to Boston, sent to 
England, and there executed. 

In March, 1697, the long pending boundary question as to the 
southern limit of Providence was determined by statute making 
the Pawtuxet River the southern bound. 

In June, 1700, the lot from the highway on the east, including 
the North Burial Ground as originally laid out, and extending 
westward to the Moshassuck River was voted by the town to 
remain common for a " training field, burial-ground, and other 
public uses." Excepting the portions reserved as a burial-ground 
and for highways, this lot has since all passed into private hands. 
This was the first public burial-ground established in the 
plantations. Before then all interments of the dead had been 
made in the private lots of the land-holders and the custom of lay- 
ing the dead to rest in the family burial-ground had taken such a 
strong hold upon the people that it was many years after before 
this " North Burial Ground " came into more common use. It 
was not till sixty years afterward when the laying out of Benefit 
Street through the family burial-grounds disturbed the privacy of 
the same, that interments in the public cemetery, to which many 
of the bodies before then in the family grounds were removed, 
became general. 

It was not till 1701 that Providence had reached the rank and 
proportion in the tax levies that it held previous to its destruc- 
tion in 1676. The destruction of the mainland settlements then 
and the driving of their inhabitants to Rhode Island, where many 
of the most enterprising of them remained, gave a strong impetus 
to the growth and development of the island towns. The harbor 
facilities of Newport, unparalleled on the New England coast, 
the comparative wealth gathered there and the superiority of its 
citizens, as a class, in point of education, enabled these towns to 
maintain and continue this development. 



It is much to the credit of our ancestors in these plantations that 
they were enabled in thirty-five years to regain their comparative 
wealth and standing. 

Up to this period the maritime efforts of the plantations had 
been feeble. Such as they were they tended as much to the 
advantage of Newport, to which our markets were tributary, as to 
ourselves. In the next chapter we shall detail the events of an 
era of maritime growth which resulted, in connection with a war 
that wrought for Newport a destruction almost as desolating as 
that of Providence in 1676, in reversing their positions and giving 
Providence that supremacy over Newport which she has since 
maintained. 



The Origin and Evolution of the Titles to Real Estate 
in Providence Plantations. 

All through its existence in the seventeenth century and in 
the first years of the eighteenth, Providence Plantations was 
chronically convulsed by dissensions growing out of the question 
of local land titles. Some allusions have been made to this sub- 
ject, but the matters involved were too intricate to be treated 
as the incidents thereof occurred. A sketch of that episode is, 
however, necessary to enable the reader to understand the evolu- 
tion of land titles from the hands of the Narragansetts to the pres- 
ent owners, and also the various involvements beyond those 
already detailed that vexed the minds of our colonial forefathers. 

It will be remembered that the original deed to Roger Wil- 
liams (see page 18) was, in 1639, confirmed by Miantonomi "up 
the streams of Pawtucket and Pawtuxet without limits . . . 
for use of cattle." About the time that Roger Williams conveyed 
all his rights under this deed to his twelve fellow-townsmen in 
equal division with himself and such other's as might be admitted 
to town-fellowship, an agreement was made by the thirteen to 
take in equal division all the meadow ground at Pawtuxet on 
both sides of the river, each contributing his share towards pay- 
ment of the same. This constituted the " Pawtuxet purchase," 
and was held to give the right to the land covered by it to these 
thirteen and their heirs and assigns, distinct from any rights of 
future " common proprietors" of Providence. 

Owing to indistinctness of limits in this arrangement there 
began, even before the settlement of Pawtuxet, to be questions as 
to the dividing line between the " Providence grand purchase," 
or town of Providence and the Pawtuxet purchase. A line was 
agreed upon between them from the shore of the bay to Masha- 
paug — near the present Mashapaug Pond — but to the westward 
of that all was left indefinite. This want of definiteness in bounds 
left open questions that afterwards convulsed and almost tore in 
fragments the colony. 

In the other direction, Massasoit, the Wampanoag chieftain, 
claimed title to large tracts in the northeastern part of the terri- 
tory granted to Roger Williams, and it was deemed advisable to 
pay him for the same for the purpose of quieting the title. The 
payment was made, but no deed was taken from him. The deeds 
from the Indians were construed to give a title, so far as jurisdic- 
tion went, and a right to tike up any lands unoccupied by the 
natives; but if land occupied by them was wanted it was neces- 
sary to satisfy the individuals for their losses in moving away. 

The first "grants" were very irregular as to form, granting 
clauses, and definiteness of limits. As new sachems came to 
rule in place of the original grantors it was deemed advisable to 
take other and more formal confirmatory deeds from them. 

In view of these facts at a general court held in Providence 
May 17, 1659, Providence was authorized to " buy out and clear 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



47 



off Indians within the bounds of Providence as expressed in the 
town evidence (first grant) and to purchase a little more in case 
they wish seeing that they are straightened." 

Under this authority, in 1659 a more formal deed was taken from 
Caujaniquanti, brother to Miantonomi, " to the men of Provi- 
dence and to the men of Pawtuxet," confirming the grant of 
Miantonomi and enlarging its terms to cover the use of the land 
for farms and plantations and fixing its limits to twenty miles, 
" beginning to measure from a hill called Fox's hill, upon a 
strait line running up into the country between Pawtuxet and 
Pawtucket rivers." 

In the same year a deed from Cussuckquansh and Nenecelah, 
other brothers of Miantonomi, and sachems, to the same parties, 
was taken. This deed also confirmed the territory between the 
streams of these rivers and up these streams without limits or as 
far as the grantees "should think fit," reserving the rights of the 
Indians removed to obtain compensation to their content before 
removal, and declaring that the Indians thereon should not sell 
any part of said lands to any person whatsoever. 

Also in the same year another confirmatory deed was taken 
from Scuttape and Quequaganewett, grandsons of Canonicus, to 
the same parties covering the same lands with substantially the 
same provisions. Later, in 1661, the old Wampanoag claims in 
the northeastern part of this territory were revived and were 
quieted by deeds taken from their ruling sachems to a committee 
representing the town of Providence, covering all lands in the 
northern part of the plantations except that covered by the 
u Inman" and " Mendon " purchases hereafter referred to. 

In accordance with the extent of these purchases the town, in 
1660, agreed that its western limits should be twenty miles west 
of Fox Hill and a committee was appointed to run the western line. 
It was also agreed that the dividing line between Providence and 
Pawtuxet should be midway between Woonasquatucket and Paw- 
tuxet rivers for twenty miles upward. This committee did not 
run the western line of the town, nor did they run the line 
between Providence and Pawtuxet as directed. On the contrary 
they ran the famous seven-mile line, now forming the eastern 
boundary of Burrillville, Glocester, and part of Scituate, which 
commenced at a point seven miles to the west of Fox Hill. * 
They ran the northern line of the Pawtuxet purchase to a point 
at the southern end of said u seven-mile line," near the Pocasset 
River — a glance at the map will show that had they continued 
the line as they were directed it would have given to Pawtuxet 
more than half of the land in the colony west of the u seven- 
mile line." This committee did not make any return till 1668, 
and, as might be expected, their return when made satisfied no 
party. The Pawtuxet men claimed all the land on the upper 
waters of the Pawtuxet, and further, that the later deeds of the 
Indians being only deeds of confirmation, the Pawtuxet men had a 
right to partake of the common lands thereby given to the town. 
The town proprietors claimed that the later deeds of the Indians 
taken as confirmation were frauds upon them (the Indians) but 
as new grants they were valid and that, they being new grants, 
the Pawtuxet people had no interest in the lands conveyed. 
(Seeing that the Pawtuxet men were specially mentioned in these 
later deeds as grantees, the ingenuity of this line of argument is 
simply overpowering.) With such diverse views, and with such 
indefinite deeds and agreements it will be readily conceived 
that no satisfactory line could be run. This whole attempt at 

•Fox Hill was the hill standing between Mile-End Cove and the salt water to the south- 
ward. It was an important point in ancient times. During the Revolution a strong fort 
was built upon it for the protection of Providence. It is now entirely demolished and 
removed, but a view of it as it appeared in 1816 is shown in this work. 

The line referred to in the text as seven miles west of Fox Hill was actually over eight 
miles therefrom, but measurements of lands were liberal in those days. 



running a line was but a compromise measure, as long before then 
the parties had appealed to law. Here another difficulty had 
arisen : the court to be appealed to consisted largely of Providence 
men. Every leading citizen of Providence was a proprietor 
either in the town or in the Pawtuxet purchase, and no assistants, 
who composed the highest courts in the colony, could be chosen 
from Providence but what were interested on one side or the 
other. The idea of a judge refusing to sit in a case because he 
was interested was a refinement the colonists had not arrived at, 
and consequently neither side was satisfied of the justice of any 
verdict given against them. The bitter feeling developed in 
such a contest can scarcely be realized. William Harris from 
the beginning was a leader in the cause of the Pawtuxet men and 
the bitterness of his relations with Roger Williams grew largely 
out of this contest. 

In 1677, despairing of obtaining justice here, Harris went to 
England, laid his cause before the king, and obtained a decree di- 
recting the four governors of New England to appoint commis- 
sioners to decide the questions. The court was so formed and 
a decision in favor of the Pawtuxet men was given in every 
case ; but when attempts were made to enforce the decisions by 
executions it was found impossible to get them properly served. 

Harris again started to go to England for further redress, but 
on the way was captured by pirates, and though ransomed after a 
year, his health was so seriously impaired by his sufferings that he 
died upon his arrival in London, 1681. 

After his death the dispute was kept up and not settled till the 
year 171 2, when by compromise it was agreed that the boundary 
should run from Mashapaug west, fourteen degrees north, to the 
seven-mile line ; thence due south, continuing said line to the 
Warwick line ; thus giving the Pawtuxet men in lieu of very nearly 
one-half of the present Providence County, as claimed by them, 
only a little more than the present town of Cranston. 

It is proper to say that the Pawtuxet claimants considered them- 
selves entitled in an equal degree to lands south of the Pawtuxet 
and on its south branch, and maintained a contest of equal bitter- 
ness with the Warwick settlers in regard to the same. 

This agreement gave, as between these two parties, all the 
land west of the seven-mile line to the u proprietors of the town 
of Providence." There were three other claimants within the 
limits of the county of Providence (excluding Cumberland, part of 
Pawtucket, and East Providence, as later derived from Massa- 
chusetts). 1st. The Westquanoid Company. This company 
claimed all the land south of the north branch of the Pawtuxet 
River to the Warwick line, by virtue of a deed from native owners. 
The contest with them was wisely settled by compromise. 2d. 
The Inman purchasers. This claim was based on a purchase 
by Edward Inman and others, of land now mostly in Smithfield, 
North Smithfield, south of the Branch River, and a part of 
Woonsocket, purchased from u William Minion," a Massachusetts 
sub-sachem, acting under authority given him by the Wampa- 
noag sachem . The proprietors of the town of Providence refused 
at first to recognize the validity of his deed, but it was finally con- 
firmed by the colony, and afterwards by the " proprietors." 3d. 
The Mendon purchasers. All the land north of the 4t Branch 
River " appears to have been included in a purchase by the pro- 
prietors of the town of Mendon in Massachusetts, and for many 
years they exercised jurisdiction over it and collected taxes within 
its limits. Excepting those derived from these three parties or 
from the " Pawtuxet purchasers," all titles to land in the county 
of Providence (excepting those in Cumberland, part of Paw- 
tucket, and East Providence) , come through grants made by the 
" proprietors of the town of Providence." 



Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter VI. 



THE COLONIAL GROWTH OF COMMERCIAL PROVIDENCE, 1 701-1760. 



REVIEW OF SITUATION OF COLONY AND TOWN LIFE OF THE INHABITANTS — FIRST HOUSES FOR RELIGIOUS WORSHIP DIVISION 

OF COLONY QUEEN ANNE WAR — TAX RECEIPT PRICES DEVELOPMENT OF SHORE WEST OF TOWN STREET RESERVA- 
TION OF FORD AND SWIMMING-PLACE TO WEYBOSSET FIRST ISSUE OF PAPER MONEY EXPEDITION AGAINST PORT ROYAL 

FIRST WEYBOSSET BRIDGE — SHIP BUILDING THE " BANKS " PROVIDENCE PROTESTS AGAINST PAPER CURRENCY 

BOUNTIES ON WOLVES, ETC. SEPARATION OF " PROPRIETORS* GOVERNMENT " FROM u TOWN GOVERNMENT" — FIRST CON- 
GREGATIONAL CHURCH AND KING'S CHURCH ORGANIZED — BURNING AGUE — ROADS — REMOVAL OF WEYBOSSET HILL — 

HOUSE STATISTICS, 1732 PAPER CURRENCY FROM 1715. TO 1850 — GOVERNOR JENCKS VETO POWER FIRST COUNTY 

HOUSE POPULATION IN I73O FIRST CHURCH BELL SET-OFF OF SMITHFIELD, GLOCESTER, AND SCITUATE MILL BRIDGE 

BUILT —IMPROVEMENTS IN CHARLESTOWN AND AT NORTH END — SCHOOLS EARLY PHYSICIANS CONDITION OF STREETS 

FULLER'S FERRY WAR AGAINST SPAIN BENEFICENT CHURCH WEYBOSSET BRIDGE IMPROVED WAR WITH FRANCE 

POPULATION SUFFRAGE — GROWTH OF TOWN BENEFIT STREET COUNTY WORK-HOUSE FIRST PUBLIC LIBRARY 

CRANSTON SET OFF POSTAL SYSTEM DESTRUCTION OF COUNTY HOUSE AND PUBLIC LIBRARY EARLY FIRE DEPART- 
MENT JOHNSTON SET OFF FIRST STREET PAVEMENTS WEYBOSSET BRIDGE CARRIED AWAY BY A GALE EXPEDITIONS 

AGAINST CANADA NEW COUNTY HOUSE FIRST PRINTING OFFICE FIRST THEATRE IN NEW ENGLAND FIRST NEWS- 
PAPER IN PROVIDENCE LOTTERY TO FILL UP WESTMINSTER STREET BRASS FOUNDRY TOWN COUNCIL FIRST MEETS ON 

WEST SIDE OF RIVER — THE TWO BRICK HOUSES IN TOWN LOSSES OF SEVEN YEARS* WAR WARD-HOPKINS CONTROVERSY 

RESULT OF PAPER CURRENCY. 



Providence Plantations by the commencement of the eight- 
eenth century had fairly begun a career of commercial prosperity. 
The old era of religious discussion and jurisdictional uncertainty 
may be said to have mainly passed away and a new one of mate- 
rial development have commenced. Before describing this pe- 
riod, it is well to take a cursory view both of the colony and the 
plantations at this date. 

The colony was under the government of Samuel Cranston, 
of Newport, to whom, more than to.any other person*, it owes credit 
for masterly skill in the management of its interests. For a period 
of twenty-nine years, from 1698 to 1727, he filled the office of gov- 
ernor by annual election, and never, during that time, was he 
found wanting in skill and ability to meet any emergency that arose. 

The total population of the colony at the commencement of 
that period was about seven thousand one hundred persons, with 
Newport having about two thousand, Providence, 1,500; King- 
ston, 1,200; Westerly, 600; Portsmouth, 600 ; Warwick, 500 ; 
East Greenwich, 300 ; Jamestown and New Shoreham, 200 each. 
It is to be remembered that the territory of Newport was then 
nearly the same as now, while Providence included nearly the 
whole of the present Providence County and the population then 
within the limits of the present city of Providence did not exceed 
six or seven hundred. The freemen voters numbered about one 
thousand. The militia included these and some hundreds more. 
The chief town and head-quarters of trade was Newport. Of 
the score or more of vessels owned in the colony, but two or three 
belonged elsewhere. Ship building was then carried on only at 
Newport. The colony traded with the West India islands, the 
Western islands, Surinam, Curacoa, and with the English colonies 
in North America. 

Its exports were lumber, staves, heading, hoops, beef, pork, 
butter, cheese, onions, horses, candles, cider, Indian corn, and 
wax. Its imports were sugar, molasses, salt, ginger, indigo, 
pimento, rum, wine, many English goods, both woolen and linen, 
and Swedish and Spanish iron, and a few slaves. (The slave- 
trade never was active in this colony, the employers always pre- 
ferring free labor.) There was no direct trade with England, all 



commodities received from thence coming through the English, 
French, or Spanish colonies. In its trade with Boston it remitted 
more than twenty thousand pounds annually for English goods. 
The defense of the colony depended upon its militia, its expedi- 
tions by sea, its watchfulness, and a small fort on an island which 
covered the harbor of Newport "mounted with fifteen pieces of 
ordnance from six to nine pounds ball." 

It is to be noted that the greater part of the exports came from 
the forests, farms, and mills on the mainland, and of these Prov- 
idence furnished a liberal share. 

The appearance of the settlement of Providence had changed 
very much since the period ending with the King Philip War. 
The development of its commerce, though as yet comparatively 
small, had enabled it to take on an appearance of wealth hith- 
erto undreamed of. In the houses of the merchant class of the 
population, this was especially shown : as an instance, take the 
house of Philip, son of Pardon Tillinghast, built about this time. 
It was on the west side of the town street, on a point projecting 
into the river, with gardens down to the water's edge. It was 
about forty by thirty feet, two stories in height, with a kitchen 
basement underneath, and a half story above in the attic roof. 
The great room of the house was in the northeast corner, and 
was sixteen feet square, with a height of over eight feet from floor 
to ceiling. The sduth side of this room was entirely ceiled with 
paneled wood-work, with ornamental pilasters running from 
floor to ceiling on each side of a moulded mantel ; under the man- 
tel was a fire-place surrounded with a series of imported tiles 
fifty-two in number, representing scenes in biblical history. On 
the west side of the room let into the wall was a "beaufet" sur- 
mounted by an ornamental arch. On the shelves and in the cup- 
boards of this beaufet were kept the silver and glass-ware of the 
family ; under the windows of the room the walls were lined with 
paneled wood-w T ork to the floor. There were four other rooms 
on this floor. The second story had the same division of rooms. 
The more common houses of the better class were of two stories, 
often with gambrel or hip-roofs, and having four rooms to a floor. 

In these houses common chairs, armed chairs, and easy chairs 



Digitized by 



Google _ 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



49 



covered with leather were to be found. Collections 
of books that might properly be called libraries were 
not uncommon. Dress goods of foreign make were 
worn by some of the citizens. Fur, muffs, and gold 
watches, seals, and gold headed canes were not un- 
common. The poorer classes, however, depended 
almost entirely for clothing upon the wool and flax 
grown in the colony, which was carded, spun, and 
woven in the homes of the people, and on the work- 
manship of the colonial artisans for their implements. 

Since Pardon Tillinghast built the first wharf and 
warehouse in 1679, others had been built to the 
northward thereof on the west side of the town 
street, the land being filled out into the stream and 
warehouses built thereon, leaving docks between the 
several warehouses. 

To the north, west, and southwest, up the valleys 
of the Blackstone, the Moshassuck, the Woonasqua- 
tucket, and the Pawtuxet, venturesome pioneers had 
pushed their way, locating their scattered farms on 
the most available sites, and more than half of the 
inhabitants of the town lived in the country districts. 

Previous to the eighteenth century the religious 
sentiment of the colony never found expression in 
the erection of houses for worship. Meetings were generally 
held in the open air ; when impractical to hold them thus, resource 
was had to private hospitality. The first house ever erected 
solely for religious worship was the private property of Pardon 
Tillinghast, merchant, and pastor of the church, and was erected 
near the north corner of the present Smith and North Main 
streets, in the year 1700. It fronted on the town street, and its 
rear was supported on piles driven into the river's bed. After 
preaching in it for some ten years, he gave the house and lot to 
the Baptist Society. 

The second house of worship erected in Providence, and the 
oldest one in this state belonging to the society that erected it, 
and still in use for worship, was the Friends' Meeting-house, in 
what is now Lincoln, erected in 1704. A larger addition has 
since been added to the eastward of it, but the old house can be 
shut off from the addition, and is habitually so used. 

The colony was first divided into counties in 1703. As then 
established there were two, Providence Plantations, including all 
the mainland, and Rhode Island, comprising the island towns. 

In the same year the western boundary was agreed upon by 
commissioners of Connecticut and this colony. The citizens of 
Connecticut were not satisfied, however, and new disputes arose, 
and it was not till 1726-7 that this line was settled. Then it was 
done by royal decree. 

Queen Anne's War had broken out in 1702 and continued till 
1 713. The expense mainly of measures for the defense of the 
colony, occasioned by the war, caused a colony tax of £ 1,000 to 
be levied in 1705. In payment of this tax, wheat was to be 
received at 3s. 8d. per bushel, rye at 2s. 6d., corn at 2s., barley 
at is. 8d., oats at is. per bushel, and wool at 9d. per pound. 

In this year, 1704, the first prison in Providence (near Short 
Alley, Benefit Street) was destroyed by fire, and Joseph Latham 
and John Scott were bounden to build a new one equally good, or 
P av £33- Tne General Assembly refused to allow them to build 
a new one, but compelled them to pay the money — £30 for the 
new jail and £3 for incarcerating them. It was either a case of 
incendiarism, or a very harsh proceeding. 

The country on the western shore of the river was slowly in- 
creasing in population, and as early as 1704, a bridge from the 
town street by the present What Cheer block to Weybosset Hill 
was discussed ; but it was too great an undertaking for the times, 
and the inhabitants satisfied themselves for years with the facili- 




THE OLD ABBOTT HOUSE, NEAR NORTH MAIN STREET, PROVIDENCE. 

ties for crossing afforded at low tide by the ford over the clam- 
bank, and the use of boats and swimming of cattle at high tide. 

On the east side of the river demands were arising for ware- 
house lots on the west side of the town street throughout its 
whole length on the shore. Gideon Crawford and others were 
rivaling Pardon Tillinghast's largest enterprises in the West 
Indies and other foreign commerce. As showing, in their own 
words and style, the state of affairs and the feelings of the pro- 
prietors, the following quotation is given from a resolution passed 
July 27, 1704: 

" Whereas, There is a continual pressing upon the town by 
people for grants of warehouse lots by the salt water side along 
the town street in our town of Providence, the purchasers and 
proprietors now meet together on this our quarter day, having 
taken the matter into consideration, how greatly detrimental it 
will prove and be unto the town — if so there should be a grant of 
warehouse lots all along the salt water by the town street, by rea- 
son that the people thereby would be so much obstructed of 
recourse to and from the water-side, as they have continual occa- 
sion for ; and more especially from the southern part of Thomas 
Field, his home lot, which lieth next to Gideon Crawford's lot, 
and so up northward, because there is so constant a passing to 
and from the town to Weybosset side, cross the water, and from 
Weybosset side to the town, with canoes and boats, riding and 
carting, and swimming over of cattle from side to side ; and the 
stream oftentimes running so swift, and many times rough water 
by reason of stormy weather, whereby neither canoes, boats nor 
cattle swimming, can make any certain place to land, but must 
land where they can get on shore, which if the land by the shore 
were appropriated it would hinder any landing and so damage 
accrue. 

"Therefore for the preventing of what inconveniences, other- 
wise might ensue, and for that a free recourse may be, cross the 
said waters without impediment of landing where the shore is 
made, and for that carts horses people and cattle may up and 
down the bank from the street to the water and from the water to 
the street have free recourse. 

u Be it enacted and ordered and it is hereby enacted and ordered 
by the purchasers and proprietors aforesaid that from this day 
henceforward there shall not at any time be any land appropriated 
by any person, which lieth upon the side of the salt water by the 
town street from the piece of land laid out for a town wharf to be« 



Digitized by 



Google 



So 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



which is against the southern part of the said Thomas Field's his 
home lot, (now South Main Street near Crawford) . There from 
a big rock up the river northward along the town street unto the 
north side of the now Thomas Olney, Sr. , his home lot which was 
formerly his father's dwelling place (now North Main Street near 
Arsenal Lane) . And there shall not be any grant made at any 
time, to any person whatsoever, of any warehouse lot, or parcel 
of land called by any other denomination lieing or being between 
the aforesaid town wharf place and the north side of the said 
Thomas Olney his lot ; but that all the land lieing and being be- 
tween the two places, all along between the salt water and the 
west end of the -home lots which belong unto people, shall be and 
continually remain in common for the use and benefit of people as 
aforesaid. And that there may be a free recourse also on Way- 
bossett side to the salt water for passage or what improve else 
may be made of the same by people or for cattle coming to the 
salt water, travelling on foot or on horseback carting ferrying 
&c. Be it further enacted and ordered by the purchasers and 
proprietors aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted and ordered that all 
that little neck of land which may properly be called Weybosset 
Neck (all the firm land east of the present Dorrance Street) . . . 
shall perpetually lie and be in common and shall not be in any 
part of it appropriated to any person whatsoever at any time. 
Neither shall there be any grant made thereof nor of any part 
thereof for warehouse lots nor portion of land under what denomi- 
nation soever unto any person or persons, But that the said Neck 
of land and Every part thereof shall be and Remain continually 
in Common for the use and benefit of the people as aforesaid." 

The town street, the street leading from it down past Wap- 
wayset Bridge to the mill, and perhaps Olney's Lane, were the 
only streets in the town that were not frequently barred by gates, 
as we now occasionally find drift ways in the country. 

In 1 710 the first issue of paper money was made by the colony. 

This seems to have been a wise measure. A war had been 
pending for years ; the colony had exhausted its ready money in 
providing means of defense ; large expeditions were preparing 
against the enemy in which this colony must take its fair share, 
and there seemed to be no way of meeting the emergency other 
than by the use of the colonial credit. The later history of the 
colonial paper money had not the same excuse as its inception. 

The town of Providence supplied to the expedition organized 
in 1710 a quota of forty white men and eight Indians, — the first 
soldiers ever sent out of the state. 

In the same year its citizens earnestly took up the business of 
building a bridge to Weybosset, and in the next year it was fin- 
ished. But little is known of the details of this first Weybosset 
Bridge, but enough can be told to mark its contrast with the 
present one. It reached from near the west line of the present 
North Main Street to the firm land, a considerable distance to the 
westward of Washington Row. It was from twelve to fourteen 
feet wide, and though there was passing through it a consider- 
able traffic to the wharves and ship yards (later established) 
above, it had no draw. A section was so constructed that its 
timbers could be removed when it was necessary for a vessel to 
pass through. This clumsy contrivance was inconvenient and 
expensive, but was submitted to till, in 1763, a new bridge with a 
draw was built. 

At the time the bridge was building a new road was ordered to 
be laid out from the head of the bridge over the marsh towards 
Plainfield, intersecting with another road, now High Street, — 
ordered in 1704. This road over the marsh was not built to be 
passable till near sixty years later, but it is interesting to notice 
the time of its first conception, for it has now become Westmin- 
ster Street, in some respects the principal street of the city. At 
this time, also, another bridge was ordered across the Moshassuck 
River, near the town mill, on or near the site of the present Mill 



Street Bridge, but the time for the completion of that project did 
not arrive till twenty years later. 

In the same year, 171 1, bridges were first built at Pawtuxet 
and Pawtucket, and the business of ship building was established 
in Providence. Nathaniel Brown had been building vessels for 
some years at Bullock's Cove, then in Rehoboth, Mass., though 
now in East Providence, and probably built there many vessels 
for Providence merchants. He became a convert to the Church 
of England, and refusing to pay a tax for the support of the relig- 
ion established in Massachusetts, he was imprisoned at Bristol. 

On his release he left Massachusetts, and was cordially received 
at Providence. The town made him two grants of half an 
acre each on Weybosset Neck, " on salt water, so long as he shall 
use it for building vessels." This was a part of the land the pro- 
prietors had declared seven years before should forever remain 
common. It was a portion of the space now between Washing- 
ton Row, Exchange Place, and Exchange Street. The suggestion 
of ship building on that spot sounds curiously in modern ears. 

The vessels built here were sloops and schooners, the largest of 
which were of some sixty tons burden. They carried the colonial 
exports to the West Indies and the Spanish main, and even to 
the coast of Africa. The tide of commercial prosperity was 
rising not only in Providence, but throughout the colony. Many 
of the colonists attributed it to the issue of paper money in 1710 
-'n, amounting to £13,300, and thought that if that issue pro- 
duced so much benefit the issue of more would produce a 
greater ; that there was practically no limit to the scheme, and 
the plan was discussed of issuing the so-called banks. The best 
method of explaining this term, as then applied, is to describe 
one of the "banks," taking that of 1715 as an instance: the 
colony issued £40,000 in bills of credit, being the colony's prom- 
ises to pay to bearer in given amounts. These were divided by 
the legislature among the several towns, and delivered to certain 
of the freeholders upon their severally giving mortgages to the 
colony of. their real estate, in double the value of the bills re- 
ceived, to secure the payment to the colony of five per cent, per 
annum interest, and the repayment of the loan in ten years. 

Who selected the freeholders to receive the loans cannot be 
definitely determined, but probably the town councils made the 
selections for their several towns. 

The anticipated results of the plan were that the leading men 
of the state would obtain a currency issued by the colony that 
would command more general credit than their individual notes. 
That the general public would have a currency with which to 
transact its business. That the colony would obtain an income 
from the interest paid by the takers of the loan, thus reducing the 
amounts to be raised by taxation, and at the end of ten years the 
amounts issued would be redeemed by the payment of the mort- 
gage debts. The radical defects of this scheme are easily seen, 
being thrown into full view in the light of history. 

Had the banks been, restricted in number and amount, the 
plan might have developed more favorably, but in a democratic 
republic, and such the colony had practically become, there could 
be no reason given why one freeholder should have loans granted 
to him, and his neighbor, with equally good mortgage security, 
should .not. With the advent of plentiful currency came an in- 
flation of prices, and with that inflation came a call for more 
banks. With the issue of currency beyond the normal limit, came 
a depreciation of the same. For years, while the amount of the 
currency was comparatively small, the depreciation was not great, 
but as bank after bank was issued till the amount grew into 
hundreds of thousands of pounds, the paper money depreciated 
from its first value of eight shillings to the ounce of silver to about 
one hundred and seventy-five shillings to the ounce of silver. 

The citizens of Providence foresaw the disastrous results of the 
system, even before the first bank was issued, and formally, in a 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



*i 



town-meeting held in 171 2, protested against any further issuance 
of paper money. Their protest was unavailing, and they were 
compelled to work out their commercial salvation as best they 
could through the next fifty years, which may be called the colo- 
nial paper money era. 

So late as in the year 1716, wolves were a source of trouble in 
these plantations to such an extent that a bounty of twenty shil- 
lings per head was offered for them. Bounties were also offered 
for wild cats, black birds, gray squirrels, and in 1723 one of two 
pence per head for rats. 

The town proprietors, though a separate body from the free- 
men, had always transacted their business in the town-meetings 
and had their records kept by the town clerk. 

Originally, all the townsmen were proprietors, but after a time 
townsmen were admitted as freemen without their having any 
right to the proprietary common lands. After the number of the 
propietors had reached 100 no more were admitted. 

As the number of townsmen increased, in case of a diversity of 
opinion between the proprietors and non-proprietors, the latter 
class could outvote the former. It therefore became expedient 
for the proprietors to have a separate organization, which was 
effected in the year 171 7, and has ever since continued. 

There was one peculiarity of this proprietorship interest which 
is probably without a parallel in the history of the world. There 
were always, after that number was once reached, 101 proprietors, 
and they were and are immortal. Whenever a division of land 
was made it was divided among these 101 proprietors, though 
they were all long since dead. In 17 18, 101 lots of land were 
divided amongst them, and in 1724 the u stated common lands," 
a large tract now in the first and tenth wards, was divided out to 
Roger Williams, Robert Williams, William Harris, Chad Brown, 
Benedict Arnold, Stukely Westcott, and their companions, to the 
number of 101 , of whom there was not one that had not been long 
sleeping under the sod. 

If a meeting were held to-day the votes would nominally be cast 
by the original proprietors, and the proceeds of any sale would 
be received by them and receipted for in their names ; the votes 
being cast and the sums received by the heirs or assignees of the 
original proprietor, but in his name. 

The last meeting of this peculiar organization was held about 
1836, when the late Hon. William R. Staples, 
author of the Annals of Providence, was clerk 
of the proprietors. Their records are now in 
the hands of his son. 

Though having had no meeting in the last 
generation, the body is still legally existent, and 
if occasion arose might divide to-morrow among 
Roger Williams and his one hundred co-proprie- 
tors as if they were all now living. 

About 1 719 the first Weybosset Bridge was 
carried away by a freshet, and a new and wider 
bridge, sixteen feet broad, was built. 

With the exception of the Baptists and Friends, 
there had been no organized religious societies 
in the plantations since their settlement, but 
shortly previous to the year 1720, a movement 
to erect a Pedo-Baptist Congregational Church 
was inaugurated, and in 1721 Dr. Hoyle, one 
of the most active and efficient of the parties in- 
terested, visited the neighboring colonies to solicit 
pecuniary aid. He was successful in his mission, 
and on his return, without the concurrence of his 
associates, commenced the erection of a church 
near and westward of the present junction of 
High and Broad streets. 

A church was certainly not desired at that 



place, and the building was torn down, as tradition says, in the 
night time after it was partially erected. This action did not, 
however, stop the movement towards a new church, and in i7 2 3 
a meeting-house was erected a short way up the hill in the rear 
of the town street, on what is now the corner of Benefit and 
College streets, the present site of the County Court House. A 
lane, now College Street, was laid out from the town street to 
give access to the meeting-house. This was the first highway 
laid out easterly of the town street since the foundation of the 
town, when the primitive ones were located. 

The church building was enlarged at a later date, and in 1794 
it was sold to the town and still lives in the memory of many of 
our citizens as the old Town House. 

Coeval with this movement there was an awakening of interest 
among the townsmen favoring the Church of England. Nathan- 
iel Brown, the shipbuilder, and Gabriel Bernon were the chief 
promoters of the movement. Gabriel Bernon was an affluent 
Huguenot exile, who came to Providence, purchased of the pro- 
prietors the u Spring lot," where Roger Williams first landed, 
and there built the first dwelling-house erected on the west side 
of North Main Street. It is interesting to note that the chief 
movers in establishing here the first church of the established 
religion of England were exiles for religion's sake. A society 
was organized, and in 1722 a church building was erected. This 
was called King's Church, and occupied the site of the present 
St. John's Church. The land was given by Nathaniel Brown for 
the uses of the society. It formed a part of the original home 
lots of Joshua Verin and Widow Reeves. 

In 1723 a disease called the burning ague desolated the town — 
eighteen men, sixteen women, and nine children, in all forty- 
three persons, died of it in the course of three months, and of all 
who contracted it between July 1 and October, but two, one of 
whom was Maj. William Smith, recovered. 

The only practical road to the westward was one under and 
around to the south of the bluff of Weybosset Hill. This bluff 
extended full across the proposed road from the head of the bridge 
to the country (now Westminster Street) and proved an effectual 
barrier to the opening of the road. The removal of this obstruc- 
tion became practicable through the introduction into the town of 
a new industry — that of brick making. Weybosset Hill was a 




THE ABBOTT "STILL" HOUSE.- LATER, YOUNG'S TEA STORE BUILDING. 
Formerly at the corner of South Main and College Streets. 



Digitized by 



Google 



J2 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



clay bluff, and in 1723 Thomas Staples petitioned the town for leave 
to dig clay from it to make brick. The town granted him full 
leave to dig all he wanted provided he disturbed no highway in so 
doing. He must have done an extensive business for the times, as 
in a few years the hill was leveled and the refuse earth being used 
to fill in the marshes around formed a terrajirma near the bridge 
and allowed the compact part of Providence to step over the river. 
With this movement in progress, the town in 1725 declared the 
road following the "Pequot path " a town highway as far as the 
Warwick line. This road had been the only practicable carriage 
road to Connecticut. Bridle paths existed in other sections but 
the first wheeled vehicle that ever reached Providence from Con- 
necticut by a road north of that, arrived Sept. 29, 1722. 

After the building of the bridge and the leveling of Weybosset 
Hill the reservations of the east and west shores made in 1704, 
seemed of less importance and the lands were sold oft' till the re- 
served space approached its present limits. 

That the growth of the town was slow is shown by the fact 
that there were in 1732 in the compact part of the town but seventy- 
two houses on the east, and but twelve houses on the west side of 
the river. The latter being all on Weybosset Street. 

To return to the financial history. In 1721 a new "bank" had 
been issued of £40,000, and in 1725, when the bank loans of the 
bank of 17 15 came due, the time of payment of those loans had 
been extended three years and after that period elapsed, it was fur- 
ther extended, and the loans made payable in ten annual payments 
of ten per cent. each. At the same time, 1728, another bank of 
£40,000 was issued, and currency to the amount of many thou- 
sands of pounds was directly issued by the colony without the 
intervention of the banks. The townsmen of Providence were 
not blind to the inevitable results of this course and made a stub- 
born fight against it, but the colony seemed wild on the subject. 

The colony within twenty years had increased in wealth and 
population at a rate never known before and the people generally 
attributed this increase to the paper money issues, and argued that 
if what had been issued had caused such great benefits, the issue 
of more would cause greater ones. After years of contest a " hard 
money " candidate from Providence, Joseph Jencks, of the vil- 
lage of Pawtucket, was chosen governor in 1727. The bank of 
1728 was issued against his protest, but when in 1731 a further 
bank of £60,000 was ordered by the legislature he did more than 
protest. For the first (and last) time in Rhode Island history its 
governor claimed a veto power, and he vetoed the bank. This 
was revolution. The legislature refused to recognize any power 
of veto in the governor. The governor referred the matter to the 
crown officers of England. They decided that the governor, as 
a member of the legislature, had the power of casting one vote, 
but was concluded by the action of the majority. 

This decision gave a new impetus to the paper money party. 
At the next election Governor Jencks was retired, and thereafter 
a series of governors from the south part of the state, favoring 
paper money, were elected for the next twenty-two years. Banks 
were issued in 1 733 -'38 -'40 -'43 and in 1750; the hard money 
party still maintaining a stubborn but unavailing contest against 
the issues ; till further issues were forbidden by act of Parliament. 
In 1729 Providence County was sub-divided, Kent County being 
set off, and a county house ordered to be erected in Providence. 
The site was to be determined by the citizens. The main part 
of the town was still near the mill, but the southern part was 
growing. The party of the north wished the court-house on 
Olney's Lane (street) ; that of the south on "Gaol Lane," (now 
Meeting Street) . After a hot contest the "down town party" 
was successful, and the "Page lot" (being the one next east of 
the present Friends' Meeting-house lot on Meeting Street) was 
selected. A house for legislative, county, and town uses was 
commenced thereon in 1730 and finished in 1731. Pending its 



completion town-meetings were held in the Friends' Meeting- 
house adjoining. This county house, intended to accommodate 
the legislature, the courts, county officers, and the town govern- 
ment, was forty by thirty feet, with eighteen feet posts, and a chim- 
ney from the chamber floor. It cost £654, 9s. 

The first church bell ever used in the town was placed upon 
44 King's Church," in this year. 

In February, 1730, the outlying towns of Smithfieid, Glocester, 
and Scituate were set off from Providence. Smithfieid, as set 
orT, comprised the present towns of Smithfieid, North Smithfieid, 
Lincoln, and part of Woonsocket ; Glocester, the present towns 
of Glocester and Burrillville ; and Scituate, the present towns of 
Scituate and Foster. Their area was about three-fourths that of 
the original town of Providence, and their combined population 
about two thousand, being a little more than that left in the town. 
In 1733 the first bridge on the present site of Mill Street Bridge, 
was built, and Mill Street laid out to it and the mill. Before 
that there had only existed a bridle path and cattle driveway to 
the ford and mill. Soon after the bridge was erected the present 
Charles Street was laid out from it to the road over Wapwayset 
Bridge (Stevens Street). The part of the town between the 
Moshassuck River and the hill to the westward, and Smith Street 
at the south, and Orms Street at the north, was known for gene- 
rations as Charlestown, and after the building of this bridge 
became the most thickly settled part of the town. 

The first plat of house lots in the town was made by the 
descendants of John Smith, the miller, in 1754, being the sub- 
division of his home lot, and covered this territory. 

In 1735 George Taylor, schoolmaster, petitioned for leave to 
teach school in the chamber of the Court House, and it was 
granted him on condition that he keep in repair the sun dial in 
the street. This is the earliest reference found to anything in the 
nature of a time-keeper for public use, and Mr. Taylor's has been 
supposed to be the first recorded school. 

The first educational movement in the plantations was in 1663, 
when the proprietors ordered that 100 acres of upland and six of 
meadow be laid out to be reserved for the maintenance of a school. 
The land seems never to have been set apart, and in 1864 John 
Whipple prayed that the same might be laid out, but it was not 
done. William Turpin was the first professional teacher in town. 
He came here about 1684, and in the next year petitioned the 
town council, reciting that he had been induced to come by the 
above order, that the land might be laid out to him. No atten- 
tion seems to have been paid to the petition. 

In January, 1696, William Turpin, John Dexter, William . 
Hopkins, and five others, petitioned the town for a piece of land 
on Dexter Lane, or Stampers Hill, on which to erect a school- 
house. Of this, Staples' Annals says " the petition was granted, 
and there our information ends." It has recently been discovered 
that this school-house was built on a lot on the east side of 
Stampers Street, some fifty feet north of Olney Street, about the 
year 1697, anc * that it was known as a school-house, and used 
as such for fifty years ; that George Taylor owned a share in it, 
and probably taught in it before making the petition for leave to 
teach in the Court House above referred to. 

The first permanent resident physicians of the town were 
settled here about this time. The first professional medical man 
in Providence Plantations was John Greene, surgeon, a contem- 
porary of Roger Williams, one of the "first comers," but he 
soon after went to Warwick. Roger Williams himself practiced 
medicine in a mild way, and the leaders of the colony seem to 
have kept on hand a supply of drugs and prescribed for the ail- 
ments of the citizens till 1720, when a Dr. John Jones was em- 
ployed to take care of the sickly poor of the town and to be paid 
" if he cured them." About that time Dr. Jabez Bowen, the 
first of a line of illustrious physicians of the Bowen name, came 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



")* 



OLD 



from Rehoboth, Mass., and settled here. His house 
and office were on the town street, near the pres- 
ent Bowen Street, he having purchased the John 
Throckmotton home lot. 

At a somewhat later day came Dr. Vandelight 
and Dr. Gibbs. Dr. Vandelight married Mary 
Brown, a sister of the celebrated four Brown 
brothers, of Providence. He introduced here a new 
process of extracting spermaceti and making candles 
therefrom, that had been discovered by the Dutch, 
and with the aid of the capital of his brothers-in- 
law established a thriving business. He was the 
first to give practical instruction in anatomy in these 
plantations, and was the principal druggist of the 
town. He lived between College and Hopkins 
streets, where his house is now standing, (Young's 
Hotel,) and died about 1755. 

As late as in the year 1735 there had been no 
attempts at drainage of the streets of the town. The 
first attempt consisted in an order that persons own- 
ing land on the town street should provide subter- 
ranean drains, leading under it and down to the sea 
the water that flowed down upon it " as soon as 
they conveniently can." These owners did not find 
it "convenient" to go to that expense, and in 1736 
the town appointed officers with sufficient power to secure a safe 
condition of the highway. There were no pavements for a gen- 
eration later, and sidewalks never came into existence in the town 
till the present century. 

By 1739 a ferry from Tockwotton to Watchemoket was estab- 
lished and known as the "lower" or " Fuller's ferry." 

In 1739 England declared war against Spain, and during the 
following year Providence raised a company of 100 men under 
Capt. William Hopkins, to take part in the disastrous expedition 
against Carthagena. At this time another important step in the 
westward growth of the compact part of the town was taken. 
This was the construction of a bridge at " muddy dock" (con- 
necting the present Weybosset and Broad streets) . The passage 
here had hitherto been a fording place and now for the first time 
one could walk dry shod from the town street to the main land on 
the west side of the river. 

On the eastern side of the river the business of distilling rum 
from the West India molasses had been largely entered upon. A 
distillery faced one side of Market Square, another looked upon 
the present First Baptist church-yard, whilst others were located 
above and below on the town street. 

The first house of public worship erected on the west side of the 
river was built by the Beneficent Congregational Church in 1744, 
on the lot where stands their present building. In the same year 
a lottery was granted in aid of a new bridge to take the place of 
the Weybosset Bridge ; the new bridge was widened to eighteen 
feet and its length reduced by building out abutments thirty-four 
feet. This was a great undertaking for the town, and its construc- 
tion required two years, pending which a ferry was kept in oper- 
ation to serve in lieu of a bridge. 

In 1744 war was declared between England and France. The 
participation of Providence in this war was mainly through its 
privateers. 

In 1 747 a partial settlement of the long contested eastern bound- 
ary line was reached, Massachusetts giving up to this colony the 
towns of Little Compton, Tiverton, Bristol, Warren (including 
Barrington), and Cumberland. 

In 1748 the population of the town was 3,452, 3,117 being 
white, 225 negroes, and fifty Indians. There were thirty-one 
licensed taverns and ninety-six voters. To explain the small 
number of voters it must be stated that the voting franchise had 




BRICK HOUSE, BUILT BY DEPUTY GOVERNOR ELISHA BROWN, ABOUT 1760. 
Located on North Main Straat, north of Olney. 

been jealously restricted. As early as 1724 it was restricted to 
white men owning £100 value in land, or land bringing in an an- 
nual rental of forty shillings, and the oldest son of such owner. 
In 1730 it was further restricted to those owning land to the value 
of £200, and their eldest sons. In 1746 it was still further re- 
stricted to those holding land to the value of £400, and their 
oldest sons. The fact that the large land-holders were the ones 
who received the benefit of the banks so frequently issued may 
explain this increased restriction. 

In 1749 a light-house was built at Beaver Tail Point. This 
was of great advantage to Providence shipping and is said to have 
been the first light-house erected on the American continent. 

Since 1739 two or three roads had been laid out on the western 
side of the town. The wharves had stretched further down from 
Weybosset Street and warehouses had been built on them with 
gangways running down between. The same progress into the 
river bed was taking place from the west side of the town street, 
but to the eastward therefrom the home lots still stretched out un- 
broken by any highway to Hope Street. A street in the rear of 
the town street was advocated as early as in i743» Dut sucn a 
street would run through all the ancestral burial-grounds of the 
home-lot owners, and their souls rebelled against the proposition. 
After a stubborn contest, in February, 1747, a committee was ap- 
pointed to " inspect and examine the land whether it was con- 
venient to lay the new street, to be called l Back ' Street or Benefit 
Street, from Powers* Lane so far northward as the great gate of 
Capt. John Whipple (a little north of Star Street) or not." 
The street was ordered in 1747, but the land-owners contested so 
persistently against it that it was not finished till 1756, and its 
extension northward to the town street at the head of Constitution 
Hill was not made till 1758, and then only on condition that a 
gate be kept up at the north end. This gate was retained for half 
a century. The street wound and crooked about so as to avoid as 
far as possible the disturbing of graves in the grave-yards it passed 
through. In later years the inmates of these graves were gradually 
removed — mostly to the North Burial Ground. The street was 
then widened, straightened, and extended to the south, but it was 
a century from the time it was begun before it assumed the pro- 
portions we see in it now. 

In 1752 a school-house had been erected by the town on a lot 
to the west of the town street, opposite the Court House Parade. 



Digitized by 



Google 



54 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



It was cared for by a committee of the town, who appointed 
Stephen Jackson schoolmaster in 1753. This was the first school- 
house built and owned by the town. Six years later, after the 
destruction of the Court House, the town purchased the Page lot 
on which it had stood in lieu of the above school-house lot, which 
was then sold, and have continued to use the Page lot to the 
present day for educational purposes. 

In 1752 another school-house had been authorized by an ar- 
rangement similar to that of 1696 in regard to the Stampers 
Street school-house, to be built on the west side, and was con- 
structed near the corner of Mathewson and Broad streets. 

.In September of this year, 1752, Providence, together with 
other British possessions, adopted the new style of dating, the 
third day of September being called the fourteenth, and the legal 
year thereafter commencing on the first day of January. 

In 1753 a county work-house for paupers was erected on a lot 
north of Smith Street, and between Charles Street and the river. 
The principal work of the paupers was "picking oakum" for 
caulkers' use in the ship yards to the east and north of the work- 
house. Sometimes vessels built above would drop down to the 
workhouse wharf and have their decks caulked there. The 
greater part of the ship building of the town was then carried on 
in the Moshassuck River, above the present Smith Street. Ships, 
brigs, schooners, and sloops were here built to serve in the for- 
eign commerce of Providence, and as privateers in the Spanish War. 

About 1754 a public library, "the Providence Library Com- 
pany," was organized, Stephen Hopkins, Daniel Jenckes, Capt. 
John Cole, Ephraim Bowen, and Nicholas Brown, being the lead- 
ing members. They raised money by subscriptions and sent it to 
London to buy their books. The state granted to the society the 
use of the north and west sides of the state council chamber in the 
State House for shelving for a library, and there the literati of 
Providence met, and studied, and discussed. A verbatim report 
of one of their meetings would be most interesting. Unfortu- 
nately the library and its records were all destroyed in the fire 
that burnt lip the County House on Christmas evening, 1758. 

In 1754 the town was further divided, Cranston, with 1,460 in- 
habitants, being taken away from it. Notwithstanding this loss 
the number of inhabitants of Providence in 1755 was but 464 less 
than in 1748, showing an actual gain to the town of 1,000 in 
seven years. The town now contained 747 men, 741 women, 
*>55 boys, 754 girls, 262 blacks, * 275 men able to bear arms, '406 
enlisted soldiers, 349 small arms, 181 swords, fifty-six pistols, 762 
pounds of powder, and 3,871 balls. 

In 1 758 the communication by the old king's post gave way to 
the colonial postal service established by Dr. Franklin. Mr. 
Samuel Chace, the first postmaster of Providence, opened in 
February the first post-office, on the west side of the town street, 
opposite the present St. John's Church. 

In March and April of this year 2,000 troops of the king's 
army, destined to take part in an expedition to Canada, were 
quartered here temporarily. Perhaps the observation and study 
of these troops gave the Rhode Island militia that precision in 
drill on which they were complimented by General Washington • 
at the siege of Boston. The hay market had been moved to the 
south and was established where the east end of the city building 
now stands on Market Square. 

On Christmas eve, 1758, the County House on King Street 
(Meeting Street) was destroyed by fire. 

As early as 1754, a movement had been made by Obadiah 
Brown, an uncle of the four " Brown brothers," and others, to 
purchase a large water engine, (what we should more improperly 
call a fire engine,) and a law passed that each citizen should pro- 
vide two good fire buckets and keep the same in readiness for 

* These data axe taken from Staples' Annals of Providence, page 303. Probably these 
figures are misplaced and should read 406 men able to bear arms and 375 enlisted soldiers. 



use, but the interest dropped till after the burning of the County 
House. In the next February, 1759, an act was passed appointing 
presidents of fire wards, giving them and fire wardens under them 
proper powers. An engine was bought, and in December, 1760, 
another was provided. These engines were simply large force 
pumps, the tanks of which were filled by the citizens using the 
fire buckets above mentioned. When a fire occurred two lines of 
citizens were formed leading from the nearest water supply to the 
engine, one line passing the full buckets to the engine, the other 
passing the empty ones back to the supply source alluded to. 
Such was the commencement of our present fire department. 
The hydraulion engine, one combining a suction and forcing 
power, was a developement of two generations later. 

In March, 1759, the town of Johnston was set off from Provi- 
dence with about seven hundred inhabitants. 

In 1 76 1 there were no pavements in the streets of Providence. 
The market place, now known as Market Square, was all that 
was left unsold by the proprietors of the reservation of 1704 
Abbott's still-house formed its southern side ; at its east end was 
the Hay ward ; facing the east end was a steep bank of earth, 
part of the ancient hill ; on the north stood a row of wooden 
houses of two stories, with narrow projecting gables ; at the west 
end stood Weybosset Bridge, eighteen feet in width, with the 
whipping post at its eastern end. In the centre was a long nar- 
row dock, afterwards covered by the market building, now occu- 
pied by the Board of Trade, which was all that remained of the 
ancient river bed. A town wharf lay to the south of this dock, 
occupied by venders of fish, lobsters, and " such ilk." The 
square itself to the north of the dock was cumbered with heaps of 
stone and the rubbish of the neighborhood. In wet weather the 
square and the town street to the north and south of it formed a 
quagmire fearful to behold and dangerous to venture across. 

Here in 1761 began the first attempts at paving the Providence 
streets led on by the Brown brothers, who were then beginning 
their prominence in Providence history, Nicholas Cooke, and 
others. A lottery of three classes was granted to raise £6,000 : 
the net proceeds of class 1 to be devoted to paving/ from the 
square up town, as far as the money should go ; of class 2 to 
pave from the square down town, as far as the money should go, 
and of class 3, to pave the bridge and along Weybosset Street, so 
far as it should go. These pavements were of large round stones, 
and extended from building to building across the street, having 
no Sidewalk, and in the middle of the street was a row of larger 
stones, higher than the others, called the "crown of the cause- 
way," on which, in wet weather, walked the ladies and all others 
particularly careful to preserve their dress from contact with mud 
and mire. That the reader may see that the condition of Mar- 
ket Square as above described is a fair picture of the streets gen- 
erally of Providence at that time, we quote from an act of the 
Assembly regarding the next most important street — the one lead- 
ing from the town street to the mill : "Twenty or thirty rods of 
said road is overflowed every spring tide, and is impassable for 
carts or people on foot during the tide being up, which is a great 
damage both to the town and the country. . . . The road is 
so worn by the great quantity of water that falls from the hill 
that it is not possible for more than one cart to pass at a time." 

On the 24th of October, 1761, there was a hard gale of wind 
which brought the highest tide into the harbor of Providence that 
"hath been known in the memory of man, and carried away the 
great or Weybosset Bridge." In consideration thereof the legis- 
lature granted £1,000, old tenor, towards rebuilding it, and later, 
in 1763, authorized a lottery to raise £900 to make a "draw" in it 
to prevent the inconvenience that the want of that apparently 
simple apparatus had caused in the previous structures. 

From 1757 to 1760 Providence had its quotas of troops to fur- 
nish for expeditions against the French in Canada. When we 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



%% 



consider that large numbers of its younger men were serving at 
sea as privateersmen, it will be seen that the draft for war pur- 
poses on its working population was large. 

After the burning of the first County House on King Street it 
was decided to build one on the present State House site, and it 
had been slowly gathering into shape. Lotteries were granted 
and issues of currency made to pay for the building, to pay for 
the lot, and to renew the Providence library, and at length, in 
1762, it was finished, at a cost of over fifty-one thousand five 
hundred pounds, a sum far above all estimates. It was taken 
possession of, with the renewed Providence library finding quar- 
ters in its chambers ; and with various alterations since made, it 
still serves the purposes of a state house. 

In 1 762 the first printing office was established in Providence 
by William Goddard. The first articles printed were a "broad 
side" entitled " Moro Castle Taken by Storm" and a play bill. 
This latter was for one of the first* theatrical performances in 
New England which was exhibited in a building on King (Meet- 
ing) Street, east of Benefit. The theatrical season was short — 
a theatre was too much for our ancestors. They were rapidly 
assimilating new customs and ideas, but they "drew the line" 
at theatres. A prohibitory act was passed against them, and for 
the time they passed away.f 

The establishment of a printing office was soon followed by 
that of a newspaper — Providence Gazette and County Journal 
— whose initial number appeared on Wednesday, the 20th of Oc- 
. tober, 1762, edited and published by William Goddard. It was 
printed at Shakespeare's Head in King Street, opposite the Court 
House. 

In this year Bowen's Alley, now Howland Street, running 
from the town street through Roger Williams' home lot to Benefit 
Street, was granted to the town by agreement of adjacent owners, 
each giving six and one-half feet. This was the third street 
laid out between the town street and Benefit Street, the present 
Hopkins Street being the second one. In the same year a lottery 
was granted to raise £100 for filling up and rendering passable 
the new street running from the new bridge to the westward 
(Westminster Street) , the inhabitants of that district being too few 
in number to perform the work without this aid. 

The industry of brass founding was introduced in this year 
from Boston by Daniel Jackson, who located " west of the great 
bridge." As showing the comparative growth of that part of the 
town we find that in this year the town council met on the west 
side for the first time at Thurston's, Sign of the Golden Lion, on 
Weybosset Street. 

At this time there were but two brick houses in these plantations, 
both of which were built by descendants of Chad Brown and are 
now in existence. One, the house of Col. Richard Brown, on 
the Swan Point road (in the Butler Hospital grounds), and the 
other built by Deputy-Governor Elisha Brown, about 1760, on 
North Main Street. 

The bricks of which these houses were composed were probably 
home made, there being at that time three brick yards in the town. 
The close of the Seven Years' War in 1763 enabled the citizens 
to count up the cost of the same to them. Besides the loss of life 
and heavy taxation, the loss in vessel property from this town 
amounted to two ships, three snows, nine brigs, thirteen 
schooners, and eighteen sloops — in all forty-five vessels. 

A sketch of these times would be incomplete if it did not refer 
to the "Ward-Hopkins controversy" which raged between 1754 
and 1768. 

♦Staple* says ike Jirst t but Mr. Charles Blake, in his history of the Providence Theatre, 
claims to the contrary. 

t It is said that the sheriff who was to publish and enforce the act was a theatre-goer 
himself, and finding on his arrival from Newport that a play was to take place that even- 
ing, went to the theatre and witnessed it before publishing the law, which he did after the 
fall of the curtain on the JSnaJt of the play. 



Samuel Ward, of Westerly, was the leader of one party, which 
found most of its support in Newport and the south part of the 
state. Stephen Hopkins, of Providence, was the leader of the 
other, whose strength centered chiefly in and around Providence. 
These two men were the political Titans of the state. Ward was 
the more cultured, Hopkins, perhaps, the more downright. There 
were many points on which the people of the state were divided. 
On that of paper money Providence was antagonistic to the views 
entertained in the southern parts. In the assessment of taxes 
Providence and the north part of the state, under the leadership 
of Hopkins, contended that they were unjustly treated, and in 
other matters the different communities of the state were at vari- 
ance. Gradually every question of public policy, and many of 
local as well, were taken up and supported by one side and op- 
posed by the other, till it seemed as if all that was necessary in 
a new question to have the support of one party was to obtain 
the opposition of the other ; and personality was carried so far 
into politics that Ward and Hopkins, from being merely leaders 
of opposing parties, seemed in the eyes of their followers to have 
engaged in a bitter individual strife. Both leaders were sin- 
cerely patriotic, each believed himself to be right and had the 
courage of his convictions. The state was nearly evenly divided. 
Sometimes we had Governor Hopkins, sometimes Governor 
Ward, as either party prevailed. For thirteen years this con- 
test was kept up, and during all that time, except a short interval 
of nine months from May, 1757, to February, 1758, one or the 
other of these men filled the governor's chair, and in the last four 
years of that time by yearly alternation. There has never been a 
time in Rhode Island when political parties have been so long 
and so evenly divided under the same leadership, and it is not 
surprising that people outside of its influence sunk the principles, 
and looking only at the personal aspect of the matter have grown 
to consider it in the light of a personal quarrel. The controversy 
ceased, not because either side won decisive victory or convinced 
the other that it was right, but by both leaders and partisans 
sinking all questions of difference, and joining forces to meet the 
common danger that was seen to be rapidly approaching in the 
form of a struggle with England. 

The issues of paper currency to date of 1 750 have been de- 
scribed. The depreciation had long before then reached a point 
where it was necessary to recognize it, and in the law authorizing 
the bank of 1740, it was provided that one shilling of that issue 
should equal four shillings of the previous issues ; and in the later 
banks it was provided that the currency should have a fixed sil- 
ver value. But legislation cannot control the laws of political 
economy. Finally recognizing this fact, the legislature assessed 
heavy taxes to provide means for calling in the outstanding paper, 
paying for it, however, not its par value, but the depreciated one. 
After 1750 no paper money was issued by the colony, except the 
" Crown Point" issues so-called, to provide the means of fitting 
out troops to act against Canada, which was considered an excep- 
tional case. These last issues were called in as soon as possible, 
and never depreciated to a large extent. About 1763 there were 
in use in the colony four kinds of money : 1 . gold and silver 
coin, amount unknown ; 2. lawful money, amount outstanding, 
£66,403 ; 3. Crown Point old tenor, amount outstanding, £2,321 ; 
4. old tenor, amount outstanding, £83,687. The depreciation of 
each of the last three was different, and varying from day to-day. 
The trouble, confusion, and loss caused to the mercantile and 
other classes by this state of affairs cannot be adequately described. 
The Hopkins party was in favor of the complete retiring of all 
these paper currencies, and strove manfully to succeed in it. By 
dint of heavy taxation they had gone far on that road when the 
troubles with England, with the new issues, both state and conti- 
nental, of the Revolutionary period, were met. 
These will be treated in the ensuing chapter. 



Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter VII. 



PROVIDENCE DURING THE STRUGGLE WITH ENGLAND AND THE REORGANIZING PERIOD, 1 763-1 790. 

PROVIDENCE IN 1763 — COMPARATIVE INCREASE — GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON TAXATION — STAMP ACT — SET-OFF OF NORTH PROVI- 
DENCE — POST-OFFICE REMOVAL TO SHAKESPEARE HEAD — FURTHER TAXATION — SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF LIBERTY — 

LIBERTY TREE FIRST STAGE LINE TO BOSTON — ATTEMPTED TOWN OF WESTMINSTER POST-OFFICE AT MARKET SOJJARE 

FIRST RESTAURANT IN PROVIDENCE FIRST FREE SCHOOL ORIGIN OF BROWN UNIVERSITY LAW OF PRIMOGENITURE 

CHANGED STREETS IN 1 77 1 FIRST PROVIDENCE WATERWORKS u GASPEE " AFFAIR BITTERNESS AGAINST ENGLAND 

TOWN MARKET BUILDING FIRST BAPTIST MEETING-HOUSE PROVIDENCE FIRST TO ADVISE A CONTINENTAL CONGRESS — 

POPULATION IN 1774 PREPARATIONS FOR THE COMING CONTEST — LEXINGTON — RHODE ISLAND'S TORY GOVERNOR 

PREPARATIONS FOR DEFENSE AND AIDING THE PATRIOT CAUSE GENERAL WASHINGTON^ FIRST VISIT TO PROVIDENCE 

LITTLE RHODY THE FIRST STATE TO DECLARE HER INDEPENDENCE PROVIDENCE AND THE RHODE ISLAND AND UNITED 

STATES NAVIES COMMODORE WHIPPLE COMMODORE HOPKINS PRIVATEERING — " AT BAY " GENERAL GREENE 

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL WARD — PROVIDENCE DURING THE WAR — SUFFERING DEPRECIATION OF CURRENCY — PROVIDENCE 

AND NEWPORT COLD CUT NAILS FIRST MADE CAPTURE OF GENERAL PRESCOTT — BATTLE OF RHODE ISLAND — EVACUA- 
TION OF RHODE ISLAND BY BRITISH — DARK DAY CAPTURE OF YORKTOWN PEACE — RESULTS OF WAR ON PROVIDENCE 

FLOOD CURRENCY OJJESTIONS BANK OF 1786 CONTEST OVER ADOPTION OF CONSTITUTION OF UNITED STATES MANU- 
FACTURING PRIOR TO I79O — BOWEN STREET AND THE ROGER WILLIAMS HOME LOT. 

than half a dozen houses on Benefit Street ; all " com- 
pact " building was to the westward of it. On the west 
side of the river, Weybosset Street, Broad Street, Clem- 
ence Street, and High Street, with Westminster 
Street, largely under water, and a proposed highway 
down to the cowpens, were about all the streets made 
or proposed. To the west of North and South Main 
streets the land had been filled out nearly to the east 
side of South Water and Canal streets, warehouses 
and wharves built thereon, with narrow gangways 
and wider streets running down between, the only 
reserved space being Market Square. Weybosset 
Street to the east and south was in like manner bor- 
dered by made land, and wharves, and warehouses, 
with gangways between. It is difficult to conceive 
how almost entirely the Providence of the present 
day, in its material aspect, is the work of the past four 
generations, it might be said of the last three genera- 
tions, for the one which lived in the period of which 
this chapter treats, though they laid the foundations 
broad and sure for that growth, were too much occu- 
pied in the " struggle for existence " to effect much 
towards the actual development of that growth. 

And yet, comparing the Providence of 1763 with 
that of the close of the preceding century, a great 
development had taken place. The population (with- 
in the present city limits) had more than quadrupled. 
Almost the whole of the then known world, England, 
France, Spain, and Holland, with all their colonies, 
Sweden, Russia, Germany, Africa, and China, were 
represented in their productions in the stores of the 
Providence merchants. Articles that in the year 
1700 were only found as rare luxuries of the wealthy, 
had become necessities of the common classes. A 
regular postal communication "with the outside 
world" was established; packet lines were running to Newport 
and New York. Churches, schools, and physicians, which were 
lacking before, were established in the town, and the stock strength- 
ened for that rapid growth, which, though retarded for the next 
generation by the events we are about to detail, has, during the 
last ninety years, continued in an almost unchecked succession. 




A MINUTE MAN OF THE REVOLUTION. 

In 1763, one hundred and twenty-seven years after its founding, 
the 4 ' compact part of the town of Providence " consisted of Charles 
and Back streets, Mill Street, Hewes Street, North and South 
Main streets, Benefit Street, Olney Street, Howland, Meeting, 
College, Hopkins, Power, and Wickenden streets, on the east side. 
(We give the present names of the streets.) There were not more 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



57 



The attempts of the English government to lay a tax upon the 
American colonies, which a perusal of the charter will show to 
be a violation of the organic law. under which this colony at least, 
was established, seemed to culminate in the passage in 1765 of 
the stamp act so called. This actioncaused the General Assem- 
bly of this colony to pass an act declaring that none but them- 
selves had a right to impose a tax on the inhabitants of this colony. 
This was an open defiance of Great Britain. 

The Assembly also directed all officers to proceed in the execu- 
tion of their duties as usual, in disregard of the stamp act. The 
people of the town and colony resolved to use unstamped docu- 
ments in their transactions. The opposition both in the colonies 
and at home to this obnoxious act was so great that it produced 
its repeal in 1766. At this time the citizens of Providence were 
full of loyalty to the British government, but they did not pro- 
pose to have that government trample upon their organic rights. 
It was the course of that government in systematically encroach- 
ing upon their chartered rights that roused the citizens to that 
open act of warfare, the destruction of the "Gaspee" eight years 
later. 

In 1765 North Providence was first set off from Providence. 
Its southern limit was the Woonasquatucket River from the John- 
ston line to Four Stack Meadow on the north side of the Cove, 
(see map of Providence, 1823) ; thence to Mill Bridge ; thence 
easterly to the Seekonk River. This did not divide the com- 
pact from the incompact parts of the town. On the contrary, it 
ran through the most compact part of it. Living north of this 
town were many adherents of Ward and the division in this way 
enabled the town of North Providence to send Ward members to 
the legislature, while Providence was strongly Hopkins. It was 
an outrageous case of gerrymandering, though Gerry had not yet 
given that name to the process. It was so unreasonable that two 
years afterwards it was corrected by a new line being run from 
Four Stack Meadow to the north end of the North Burying 
Ground, and thence easterly to the Seekonk River, which remained 
for a century the line between the two municipalities. 

In 1766 the southward growth of the town was indicated by 
the removal of the post-office from opposite St. John's Church 
to "over against the court-house " (Shakespeare Head) on King 
(Meeting) Street. 

In 1767 the English government made a new attempt to levy 
taxes on the American colonies by taxing paper, glass, paints, 
tea, etc. The people of Providence resisted this, resolving not to 
import nor use, nor to allow to be imported or used, the taxed 
goods; and non-importation associations were formed, which 
crystalized under the name of Sons of Liberty, while, a little 
later, in Providence (the only community in the country where 
such an association was known) the women came forward and 
organized as Daughters of Liberty to help on the cause. 

On July 25, 1769, the " liberty tree " of Providence, in front of 
the tavern of Capt. John Olney, on Olney's Lane, was dedicated 
with appropriate services by the Sons of Liberty. 

In 1767 the first permanent stage line to Boston was established 
by Thomas Sabin, who kept a tavern in the house now standing 
at the northeast corner of Planet and South Main streets. 

By 1768 the west side of the town had grown to contain one 
hundred and two houses and nine hundred and eleven inhabi- 
tants, and in this and the next year strong efforts were made to 
form a separate town of the west side, free from the "aristocratic 
dominion of the east side proprietors." This new town was to 
be called Westminster. Fortunately for the town, the jealousy of 
the south part of the state against an increase of the power of 
Providence in the General Assembly prevented the completion of 
this plan, and the only present effect of the movement is the 
change of the name of Back Street to Westminster Street. Be- 



tween the junction of Westminster and Weybosset streets and the 
Weybosset Bridge, the street was known for generations as Mar- 
ket Street. 

In this year the post-office was moved to Market Square. It is 
interesting to note that the first oyster house and restaurant in the 
town was opened by "Manna" Bernon, an emancipated slave 
of Gabriel Bernon, at about this time. 

In 1769 the first free school in the town was established in a 
school-house erected on the Page lot, where the first County Court 
House had stood on King (Meeting) Street. This was the out- 
growth of an attempt begun in 1767 to provide free education for 
all the children in the town. Most of the wealthier inhabitants 
were in favor of it, but the poorer sort, those who would be most 
benefited by it, were opposed to it. We find the Browns, 
Jenckes, Arnolds, Greenes, Keenes, Thurbers, Sessions, Bowens, 
Hopkins, and nearly all the prominent names of the time in favor 
of it, but the poorer taxpayers were opposed, and they constituted 
a majority ; as a compromise the Page lot school-house was built, 
the lower part by the town and the upper part by " proprietors." 
In the lower part a free school was kept, in the upper part a 
private one ; all the other schools in the town were private. The 
town from this time on exercised a supervision over both this 
public and the private school, but the coming on of the Revolu- 
tionary War prevented the development of the school system, in 
fact prevented their continuance, and there was no free school 
system established till the close of the century. 

In the same year the citizens of Providence showed their love 
of, and proficiency in, the high science of astronomy by taking an 
observation of the transit of Venus, which was highly esteemed 
by astronomers all over the world on account of its correctness 
and thoroughness. This observation was taken by Dr. Benjamin 
West and Joseph Brown, assisted by Gov. Stephen Hopkins, 
Moses Brown, Dr. Jabez Bowen, Joseph Nash, and John Bur- 
rough, names of which Providence may well be proud. 

As early as 1 762 a movement was instituted by James Manning 
to establish in Rhode Island a university upon a broad basis of 
religious freedom, but under the special care of the Baptists. He 
was discouraged at first by many, even of the Baptists, " from an 
unhappy prejudice against learning." Nevertheless, encouraged 
by those exempt from such " unhappy prejudice," in July, 1763, 
he secured, as he supposed, the passage of such a charter as was 
wanted. The charter was to be prepared by the Rev. Ezra 
Styles, a Congregational minister of Newport. When presented 
for passage, Daniel Jenckes, Esq., member of the legislature from 
Providence, noticed that the governing power was given to a 
Presbyterian body, from which Baptists were excluded. He 
caused the vote to be postponed. After consultation with other 
Baptists he secured the postponement of consideration of the 
charter to the next session, and borrowed the copy of the charter 
from the files of the house to show to parties in Providence. 
Between the two sessions this paper mysteriously disappeared so 
that Mr. Jenckes was unable to return it to the Assembly at its 
next session. Upon his failure so to do he was charged with bad 
faith, " which brought on very disagreeable altercations and bick- 
erings." This document was found half a century later among 
the papers of Dr. Styles' (Presbyterian) Church. How and 
when it left Providence and reached Newport is unknown. At 
that session the pressing of a new charter to a vote was given up 
" for peace's sake," but on February, 1764, after much " alterca- 
tion and bickering," a charter, as originally intended by the pro- 
moters of the scheme, was passed, the name of the corporation 
being the " Trustees and Fellows of the College or University in 
the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 
in New England in America," with power to change the name. 
The corporation was organized, and the Rev. James Manning 



Digitized by 



Google 



*8 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



appointed president, but no active work was done in .teaching till 
1766, when the tuition part was begun in Warren by the president. 
He soon had eight scholars, which brought on the first Com- 
mencement, Sept. 7, 1769. The college growing stronger, it 
was proposed to build permanent buildings in Warren during the 
year 1770, but dissensions arose, and it was finally agreed to locate 
the university in the county which might raise the most money in 
support of it. " Some of the principal men of Providence, led by 
the Browns," advanced a sufficient sum to secure its location in 
Providence. So close was the competition that on Jan. 12, 1770, 
Newport was leading, but on the 7th of February following the 
corporation by a vote of twenty-one to fourteen decided that the 
college edifice " be built in the town of Providence and there be 
continued forever." Ground was broken for University Hall on 
the 26th of March, 1770, and on the 14th of May following the 
corner stone was laid by John Brown. For many years this was 
the only edifice qf the university. In 1804, in view of the munif- 
icent donations of Nicholas Brown, the name of the institution 
was changed to Brown University. 

The law of primogeniture, viz., that the eldest son should in- 
herit all the real estate of the father, he dying intestate, had been 
brought to this colony by the early settlers, and though the citi- 
zens had seen its injustice and inconsistency with our conditions, 
yet it never was changed till the year 1770, and then not fully. 
Provision was made then that an intestate's estate should be 
divided into a number of shares greater by one than that of the 
children, that the eldest son should take two of these shares, 
each of the other children one. It was not till 1792 that the law 
of primogeniture was wholly abolished. 

In May, 1771, a highway was ordered where a portion of 
Transit Street now is. In this year pavements had been extended 
from Market Square north to the Friend's Meeting House, south 
to Crawford Street Bridge, and west along Weybosset Street to 
Muddy Dock (Dorrance Street). There were four houses on the 
south, and one on the north side of Westminster Street. Pros- 
pect Street was laid out from Olney Street to Jail Lane (Meeting 
Street), and in 1772 Waterman Street, from Benefit east to Hope, 
was laid out. This was the last street improvement made till 
after the close of the Revolutionary War. 

The island formed by filling out from the island of Weybosset 
had been found an excellent locality for commerce, except that no 
good fresh water could be obtained there. The first system of 
carrying water in underground pipes ever attempted in the town 
was established to convey water to this district in 1772. The first 
supply was brought from a fountain on the land of Capt. John 
Field, on the main land to the southwestward, and was carried 
through pipes of hollowed logs to this section three-quarters of a 
mile, in the year 1772. In the October following, the Rawson 
Fountain Society was formed to supply other low lands on the 
west side of the river. They also used bored wooden logs as 
pipes, and drew their supply from a fountain dug in the land of 
the heirs of Stephen Rawson. Later two other supply com- 
panies were established on the west side of the river. The com- 
mercial development of the low lands in and on the west side of 
the river only became practical by means of these companies. 
They continued supplying the inhabitants of these parts till after 
the introduction of the present efficient system of water supply. 
In 1772 the English government saw fit to send to the waters 
of Narragansett Bay a vessel called the u Gaspee" to enforce the 
revenue laws. Vessels for that purpose had for years been sta- 
tioned in Newport Harbor. Some had been very obnoxious to 
the townsmen, and in 1769 a British sloop, the "Liberty," had 
been destroyed by the indignant citizens of Newport for what 
they deemed infringements on their rights, but that seems to have 
been a local rather than a national dispute. 



This " Gaspee," an armed schooner under Lieutenant Dud- 
dingston, in addition to other indignities, compelled every vessel 
passing her to strike its flag and submit to be examined. Provi- 
dence merchants, claiming their chartered rights, refused to sub- 
mit to this claim. On June 8th the schooner " Hannah," Capt. 
Benjamin Lindsey, sailed past the " Gaspee" and refused to strike 
her flag or to " come to," though fired upon by the " Gaspee." 
The latter immediately made sail and pursued the former, which 
kept on her way to Providence. Captain Lindsey, knowing his 
ground, made an apparently foolish " reach" in towards the shore, 
and Lieutenant Duddingston striving to cut him off ran aground 
on the hidden point of Namquit (since called Gaspee Point). 
The tide was falling, and no efforts of the crew could get her off 
till the next tide had risen to a height equal to that when she 
touched ground. This would be after midnight. The " Hannah " 
pursued her voyage to Providence. Captain Lindsey notified 
John Brown, Welcome Arnold, and other leading men, of the 
situation of the "Gaspee." A meeting of consultation was 
arranged to be held in Sabin's Tavern. A drum was beaten 
through the streets accompanied by a crier, calling on all Sons of 
Liberty to join in this meeting. After discussion the participants 
in the meeting went to the wharf and embarked in eight long 
boats under command of Abraham Whipple, afterwards a captain 
in the Continental navy. The little squadron rowed to Namquit 
Point, surprised, boarded, and captured the "Gaspee," wounding 
its commander in the action, and 

'• Then set her men upon the land 
And burnt her up we understand." 

The surprise was so complete that the crew of the "Gaspee" 
had no opportunity to discharge her heavy guns. Commander 
Duddingston fired his pistols at the party, and Joseph Bucklin, one 
of the attacking party, fired a gun at Duddingston and wounded 
him. That was all the firing there was in the melee* but it was 
the first combat and interchange of shots between armed parties 
representing respectively the British government and the colonists, 
and is therefore properly considered the first combat of the Revo- 
lutionary War. 

The crew of the " Gaspee" were set ashore and the vessel was 
totally destroyed. The boats returned to Providence before morn- 
ing, and " nobody knew who did it." The apparent condition of 
ignorance amongst the townsmen in regard to this matter might 
almost justify the considering them a class of idiots and non-com- 
petents. Somewhere from sixty to one hundred adults out of a 
total adult population of about twelve hundred, had taken part in 
it, and had forgotten all -about it ; those who remembered seeing 
them start and return could not identify a single soul amongst 
them. Even the deputy-governor, Darius Sessions, had only heard 
a drum beating about the streets, but just then important business 
had called him out of town and he knew nothing of what had 
happened further. In the words of the doggerel poetry of the 
day, 

44 Now for to find these people out 

King George has offered very stout, 
One thousand pounds to find out one 

That wounded William Duddingston. 
One thousand more he says he'll spare, 
For those who say they sheriffs were ; 
One thousand more there doth remain 

For to find out the leader's name; 
Likewise five hundred pounds per man 
For any one of all the clan." 

Yet none of these munificent rewards awakened any recollections 
of it. Years after this abnormal state of memory, or rather dis- 
memory, gave way to a reaction in the opposite direction, and 
after the Revolutionary War there were probably a thousand 
citizens of Providence who distinctly remembered their personal 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



$9 



experience in the expedition. An investigation in regard to this 
affair was ordered by the British government. The commission 
appointed by them held its sessions in the colony for nearly a year, 
and the manner in which our ancestors implied, without any 
actual false statement in the matter, that they had nothing to do 
with it, and proved those who said that they took part in it to be 
unworthy of belief, deserves credit for its ingenuity, if nothing 
else. The result of it was simply to increase the bitterness of 
the colonists against the home government. 



the town felt unequal to perform the task till August, 1 771, when 
it resolved to erect a market near the bridge. The townsmen of 
the north end claimed the market should be there, and those of 
the west end claimed that if any market were to be built at the 
town's expense they should have one also. This triangular con- 
test delayed the matter still further. Finally a peace was made 
between the parties. A grant of a lottery from the General As- 
sembly to raise the money to build a town market-house was ob- 
tained. The money was so raised and work was commenced in 




DESTRUCTION OF THE SCHOONER "GASPEE." 
From an old Engraving. 

In 1773 the British government, not satisfied with taxing the Market Square on the twenty-fourth day of May, 1773. The 

colonists oh articles if they used them, attempted to compel them first stone was laid by Nicholas Brown on the eleventh day of 

to use the taxed goods, especially tea. No tea was shipped to June following. Stephen Hopkins and Joseph Brown were the 

Providence, but shortly after the destruction of tea in Boston committee who had charge of the enterprise. This building, 

Harbor viz., on Jan. 19, 1774, a town-meeting here voted its full with the addition of a third story and a slight change in the 

approval of that act and pledged its cooperation with Boston eastern end, now stands on Market Squape and is occupied by 

against every other unconstitutional measure, and the tea act in the Board of Trade, 

particular. In June, 1774, ground was broken for the erection of the pres- 

In May, 1774, the town of Providence passed a resolution, the ent First Baptist Meeting-house. It was built on the site of an 

first of the kind passed in any of the American colonies, favoring a orchard of the Angell family, lying between the town street and 

congress of representatives of the colonies for establishing a union Back (or Benefit) Street. This church was opened for public wor- 

against the power of Great Britain. ship for the first time on May 28, 1775. It will be long ere we 

At the same town-meeting they directed their representatives to have occasion to note any other civil or religious improvement, and 

try to obtain from the legislature an act forbidding the importation we gladly pause to notice these at the eve of the commencement 

of negro slaves into this colony, and that all negroes born in this of the Revolutionary War. 

colony should be free after attaining a certain age. In a census taken at this time, apparently in preparation for 

There were in those days no private markets ; purchasers of the coming struggle, there were found to be in Providence : 

domestic supplies were obliged to seek sellers, or sellers pur- males oyer ffi yearg of age . g under ^ age . ^ 

chasers, as best they might, and for years a place where they might males 2 060 

meet had been deemed the greatest need of the town. In 1758 a , females ove / ^ years o{ age 7 8 ' 3 ' 2 under ' '^ age '. 

petition for permission to build a market house on the town's t . j r ma i es n 

land at the east end of Weybosset Bridge had been granted, but Indians , 53 . ^egroeV, 303 '. '. .!..!! '. . \'.'...\.\\\\ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ 37 1 

so hampered with conditions that no citizen availed himself of it. 

It was felt that the town should erect and own the building, and Total inhabitants 4*3 21 



Digitized by 



Google 



6o 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



In August and November of this year aid was sent to Boston 
for the poor of that town, showing that in the union for the 
struggle with England, the coming of which was now patent to 
all, every vindictive recollection of earlier causes of animosity 
had faded away. 

In pursuance of recommendations of the Colonial Congress, a 
committee of inspection was appointed Dec. 17, 1774, to aid in 
forwarding patriotic measures. The people almost to a unit sup- 
ported this committee, and on Thursday, March 2, 1775, to show 
their sympathy in the struggle, a bonfire was kindled on Market 
Square, where, to the accompaniment of tolling bells and appro- 
priate speeches, some hundred weight of tea were burned while 
the assembled Sons and Daughters of Liberty pledged themselves 
not to use the East Indian herb till they could do so free from 
English taxation. 

Week by week, day by day, the impending crisis was seen to 
be approaching. Cannon were cast in the foundry of John 
Brown & Co., muskets were made by Jenckes, of Pawtucket 
Falls, pruning hooks were beaten into swords, gun powder was 
made from domestic sources. The militia were drilled, and in- 
dependent companies of artillery, Infantry, and cavalry were 
formed, an/i systems of " minute men," ready to start at a mo- 
ment's notice to defend the cause of the colonies, were formed, 
till, on the 19th of April, 1775, the u gun heard round the 
world" was fired at Lexington. On the second day thereafter 
1 ,000 troops had marched, and more were ready to march from 
Providence to the scene of combat. On the 22d of April a 
special session of the General Assembly was held and the colony 
placed in a posture of defense and readiness to aid her sister col- 
onies. 

Rhode Island was troubled by the possession of a governor, 
Joseph Wanton, who believed in the royal cause, and who de- 
clined to sanction any measure inimical to it. He refused to give 
commissions to the officers appointed in the army for defense of 
the state and aid of patriots at the siege of Boston. The legisla- 
ture, therefore, suspended him from his office, leaving the Hon. 
Nicholas Cooke, of Providence, deputy-governor, to act in his 
stead, and in June placed the army of observation raised by this 
colony under command of the commander-in-chief, then Gen. 
Artemas Ward, of the combined American army, stationed in 
Massachusetts. On November 7 Governor Wanton was formally 
deposed and Nicholas Cooke made governor and commander-in- 
chief, after which the cause of freedom in Rhode Island suffered 
no more from paralysis in the official head. Pending these diffi- 
culties with the governor, several British war vessels remained 
stationed in Newport, which, it must be remembered, was the 
chief place of the colony, or were cruising in the bay, and the 
sessions of the General Assembly were held on the main land, 
generally at Providence. To protect Providence from the enemy's 
fleet breastworks were thrown up between Field's and Sassafras 
points, and a battery of eighteen pounders erected on Fox Hill. 
(See map of Providence, 1803, for its location.) Esek Hopkins, 
afterwards first commodore of the Continental navy, was ap- 
pointed commandant of this battery. A floating battery was con- 
structed. 

August 22, the "Rose," "Glasgow," and "Swan," British 
war vessels, with their tenders, were seen off Nayatt Point. An 
alarm was given, the batteries and intrenchments manned, and 
the military companies of the town appeared under arms. The 
enemy, however, did not come nearer the town and that evening 
dropped down the bay. In October scows were filled with com- 
bustible materials and kept in readiness to act as fire-ships, and 
arrangements were made for stretching a boom across the chan- 
nel. Most of these arrangements for defense were made by the 
town alone, unaided either by the colony or continental authori- 
ties. Later the colony assumed the direction, completion, and 



maintenance of these works. A beacon was erected near the 
junction of Prospect and Meeting streets, which when fired (as a 
test) was seen from Newport, New London, Norwich, and Pom- 
fret in Connecticut, and Prospect Hill in Cambridge. Further 
works were built on Prospect Hill, to the north of the beacon, on 
the former home lots of Roger Williams and Joshua Verrin, the 
spot whence we have assumed in chapter I. that Roger Williams 
inspected the surrounding country. Across the mouth of the 
Seekonk River, on the height back of Hogpen Point, (now called 
Fort Hill), the town of Rehoboth in November erected a fort, 
effectually closing to the British fleet the mouth of the Seekonk 
River. 

Besides providing for its home defense, Providence sent more 
than its full proportion of men to assist in the siege of Boston. 

A census taken at that time shows in Providence : 

Inhabitants. Families. Men. Arms. 

On the east side 2,678 431 419 305 

On the west side 1,677 3 l ° 3°7 1 9 2 



4*355 74 1 7 26 497 

After the British troops evacuated Boston in March, 1776, the 
American army took up its line of march for New York. General 
Washington arrived here (his first visit to Providence) on the 5th 
of April. He was escorted into town by the cadets and light in- 
fantry companies and two regiments of Continental troops. 

On May 4th the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plan- 
tations formally renounced its allegiance to the king of Great 
Britain, thus declaring its independence two months prior to the 
declaration of the United States and prior to that of any other one 
of them. Thus " Little Rhody," as she came to be styled, drew 
the sword, threw away the scabbard, and plunged into the strug- 
gle for a national existence as a separate empire. 

To the Declaration of Independence by Congress on July 4th, 
1776, the General Assembly of this state gave its unhesitating 
sanction. The signatures ot Stephen Hopkins and William 
Ellery to that document were unhesitatingly endorsed by their 
constituents. The signature of Hopkins was the only one to that 
instrument that was signed with a trembling hand, but it has 
been well said of him that " though his hand trembled his heart 
did not," and the disease that affected his palsied arm did not 
have any effect upon his mind. 

On the twenty-fifth of the same month the first " Fourth of 
July celebration " was held in Providence. The governor and 
members of the Assembly were escorted by the cadets and light 
infantry companies to the Court House, where the declarations 
by the legislature and Congress were read. Salutes of thirteen 
guns were then fired by the artillery and the Continental ships 
in the harbor, and the day closed in feastings and festivities. 
Though the townsmen celebrated this as a joyful event it was not 
because they were unaware of the nature and possible conse- 
quences of the acts they were celebrating. They knew that they 
had placed their hands in the lion's mouth and that they must 
choke the lion into submission or perish for their temerity, but 
they had deliberately determined to suffer death rather than to live 
deprived of their liberty. 

The fortifications for defending the town above described were 
never attacked. Newport, Bristol, Warren, and other places on 
the lower bay were captured and occupied, or sacked and burned 
during the war, but Providence behind her intrenchments lay 
secure throughout the whole period. Save by unsparingly fur- 
nishing her men and means in the cause and partaking equally in 
the general suffering of the country, Providence never felt the 
effects ot the war on the land side, but in her maritime interests 
she was sorely wounded, and by that arm she struck back. By 
her privateers she endeavored to take from the enemy an equiva- 
lent of what they had seized from her, and from Providence 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



61 



came the beginning of the American navy in ships, officers, and 



men. 



As early as in July, 1775, the General Assembly directed the 
chartering of two vessels, one of ten guns and eighty men, and 
the other of less force, to protect the trade of the colony. The 
vessels came from Providence, the men to man them were found 
in Providence, and Abraham Whipple, of Providence, was in- 
vested with the command of both, with the title of Commodore of 
the Rhode Island navy. Commodore Whipple commenced oper- 
ations against the British force in the bay on the day he received 
his commission, and on that day fired the first cannon in naval 
warfare, and captured the first prize taken in the Revolutionary 
struggle. In August the Rhode Island navy was increased, and 
the General Assembly directed the Congressional delegates to 
impress upon Congress the need of a Continental navy. This 
suggestion was favorably received, and Esek Hopkins, brother 
of ex-Governor Hopkins, (of the Ward-Hopkins controversy,) 
was appointed commodore and commander-in-chief of the Con- 
tinental navy in October, 1775. Commodore Whipple, of the 
Rhode Island navy, with his largest vessel, the " Katy," after- 
wards named the " Providence," was ordered to carry Commo- 
dore Hopkins and his men (recruited at Providence) to Phila- 
delphia, with instructions to join the Continental navy if they 
were ordered to cruise off New England. 

Commodore Whipple was transferred from the state to the Con- 
tinental service, and placed in command of the ship "Columbus." 
The fleet, under Commodore Hopkins, sailed to the Bermudas, 
thence to and captured Nassau, seized all the cannon and military 
stores there, and brought them to this country, arriving at New 
London, April 8, 1776. The fleet subsequently came to Provi- 
dence in time to partake in the celebration of July 25, 1776. 
Meantime two large vessels, the "Warren" and the "Provi- 
dence," were in construction at the Providence ship-yards for the 
Continental navy, and were launched in May, 1776. 

Newport from the commencement of the struggle had been 
made the head-quarters of the British cruisers on the coast, inter- 
fering with the trade of Providence and preventing the patriotic 
inhabitants of the islands from contributing in aid of the Revolu- 
tionary cause. Dec. 8, 1776, a large force of British troops took 
possession of the island, and their fleet then blockaded the mouth 
of the bay. The Continental fleet, being of inferior force, never 
penetrated this blockade as a body, but, one by one, the vessels 
stole out to sea. The town of Providence now went largely into 
privateering, and throughout the Revolutionary War the greater 
part of the foreign goods that reached here came through that 
source. For three years the British at Newport and the Continen- 
tals at Providence, sometimes in large force, lay watching each 
other. During this time the man with whom Providence and the 
rest of the state was more occupied than with any other was Gen. 
Nathaniel Greene. A native of Warwick, born on Potowomut 
Neck, he became the distinctive man of the whole state, not, 
perhaps, more of Providence Plantations than of other parts, but 
the one from other parts in whom Providence took the most pride. 
He was acknowledged as the second man in the struggling nation 
of America, and had any accident happened depriving the cause 
of the illustrious services of General Washington, Nathaniel 
Greene would undoubtedly have been the man chosen to succeed 
to his place. 

As General Greene in the northern part of the state, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Ward of the southern part was holding a high place in 
the estimation of the citizens of this town. A son of Governor 
Ward of the "Ward-Hopkins" controversy, no shade of bitter- 
ness was left growing out of that contention, but as his patriotism • 
shown brighter and clearer as the years of the war passed on, the 
appreciation and admiration of him grew greater in the town of 
Providence as well as the remainder of the state. 



All this time Providence was a camp. The college build- 
ing was used as a barracks and its campus as a parade ground. 
Later it became a hospital for sick soldiers, but for long years it 
ceased to perform its intended functions, and its professors and 
students were alike serving their country in the tented field. 
Whipple Hall and the brick school-house on Jail Lane, now Meet- 
ing Street, were both used as laboratories in the preparing of am- 
munition, and the rising generation suffered from the want of 
educational facilities. 

The outlook was dark and gloomy. A petition drawn up in 
August, 1777, informs us that in the six months before the number 
of polls had diminished one hundred and thirty ; that real estate had 
sunk at least twenty-five per cent, in value ; that since the blockade 
it had cost the inhabitants to live, on an average, three shillings 
per week more than their earnings. Another petition of the same 
year says: "Our port has been blockaded more than twelve 
months. Our stores and shops are almost empty. Our navigation 
demolished. Our ship-building at an end. . . . Our most 
wealthy inhabitants have packed up their fortunes and removed to 
places of greater security. The common sort of people who are 
left behind are mostly out of employment, and the poor are yet 
among us to be supported by the remaining persons of property." 

To save the poor from starvation the town raised $43,200, and 
sent it to Connecticut to buy corn, directing it to be insured if 
sent by water, offering fifteen per cent, premium for insurance 
from the Connecticut River to Providence. This shows the war 
risk. Corn cost $20 per bushel ; rye $25 per bushel. The whole 
country was suffering from a currency that was depreciating to an 
extent unknown in its previous history. In April, 1778, it had 
depreciated to four for one in silver, and continued depreciating till 
it was described as " taking a bushel of money to buy a bushel of 
corn." A few quotations, taken at random through the next three 




ESEK HOPKINS, 
Tht Fint Commodore of tht Unittd SUtti Navy. 



Digitized by 



Google 



62 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




GEN. NATHANIEL GREENE, 
First in Command under Washington. 



years, are given to 
show the rate and in- 
crease of depreciation : 
in June, 1778, $4.25 
for one silver dollar; 
August, i778,$4.75 for 
one; November, 1778, 
$5.45 for one ; Jan- 
uary, 1779, $7.42 for 
one ; March, 1779, $10 
for one; June, i779> 
$13.41 for one ; Sep- 
tember, 1779, $18 for 
one; December, 1779, 
$25.93 for one ; March, 
1780, $37.36 for one; 
April, 1780, $40 for 
one ; April 30, 1 780, 
$44 for one; May 15, 
1 780, $49 for one ; June 
15, 1780, $68 for one; 
Sept. 15, 1780, $71 for one; Feb. 27, 1781, $75 for one; May 
15, 1781, $80 for one; May 30, 1781, $160 for one. It is un- 
necessary to carry the scale further. It kept on till the bills 
practically ceased to have any value as money. 

But if Providence suffered, Newport was blighted, almost de- 
stroyed ; her citizens were driven away by the insults of a ruthless 
soldiery ; her shipping was captured and burnt ; her houses de- 
stroyed. She received a wound from the British occupation from 
which she has never yet recovered. Distressful as was the posi- 
tion of the citizens of Providence, they could yet reciprocate the 
kindness of the island in 1676, and offer an asylum to its dis- 
tressed citizens, of which many availed themselves. 

In July, 1777, one of the most brilliant dashes of the war was 
made by Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, who with forty militia 
rowed in open boats across the bay and through the English fleet 
in Newport harbor, landed on the shore, passed up to a farm 
house in the outskirts of Newport, half a mile from the place of 
landing, which was the head-quarters of General Prescott, burst 
in the door of his apartment, a negro of the party using his head 
as a battering ram for that purpose, seized the general, carried 
him to the boat, and conveyed him off through the British fleet to 
Warwick Neck. 

In the midst of this war and suffering we find relief in recording 
one triumph of peaceful mechanical ingenuity. In 1778 the first 
cold cut nail ever produced was made by Jeremiah Wilkinson, of 
Cumberland, which was now well established as a part of Provi- 
dence Plantations. 

News of the alliance of the United States with France was re- 
ceived in Providence, April 22, 1778. Salutes were fired, and 
the townsmen in other ways testified to their joy. 

In August, 1778, an unsuccessful attempt was made to capture 
the British forces on Rhode Island, in which the Providence 
militia took part. After its failure the parties fell back into their 
former positions of mutual watchfulness. 

In October, 1778, the hearts of the people were lightened and 
their hopes raised by one of the most daring and successful ex- 
ploits of the war. The British force included a floating battery 
or " galley " of 300 tons, mounting eight twelve-pounders, pro- 
tected by strong boarding nettings, and manned by forty-five men. 
It was anchored off the mouth of the Seaconnet River. Maj. 
Silas Talbot, an officer of the Revolutionary War, who had sig- 
nalized himself by his gallantry in the siege of Boston, planned 
and executed its capture by means of a small sloop mounting two 
three-pounders, and manned for the occasion by sixty men. He 
carried his prize in safety into Stonington. It was converted into 



an United States vessel, and under his command did good service 
against the British along the coast. 

In March, 1779, General Sullivan, who had commanded the 
Continental troops in this section, with head-quarters at Providence, 
left the command, and was succeeded by General Gates. On 
Oct. 25, 1779, the British evacuated the island of Rhode Island, 
thus relieving our townsmen of a portion of their anxiety, and as 
their fleet left the bay, giving some chance for a hazardous com- 
merce to be carried on. 

On May 19, 1780, occurred the phenomenon known as the 
" dark day." It suddenly grew so dark as to require artificial light. 
Fowls and wild birds went to roost at noon time. It grew lighter 
towards night. This phenomenon has never been satisfactorily 
explained. 

With various alarms to cause excitement, and the steady drag 
and strain of the depressing influences above described continually 
bearing upon their minds, the years of the war passed drearily on 
till October, 1 781 , when the news came of the capture of Cornwal- 
lis' army at Yorktown, and Providence felt proud to learn that it 
was her troops that first entered the breach, and that the first pa- 
triot order given within the enemy's works was, "Capt. Stephen 
Olney^s men form here" given by that gallant leader as he passed 
the crest. 

Again came weary years of waiting, of doubt and uncertainty 
as to the future ; of precarious commerce ; of the marching to and 
from the town of armies ; the remaining here through the winter 
of 1782 of the second division of the French army in camp at the 
head of Camp Street ; the people waiting, waiting patiently, but 
drearily, the action of the diplomatists, till the preliminary articles 
to a treaty of peace and independence was signed at Versailles in 
January, 1783 ; and on the nth of April following, a proclamation 
was issued by Congress declaring a cessation of hostilities. 

Then, and not till then, did the worn and impoverished people 
feel that the victory was won ; that their suffering had not been 
vain, and a celebration of the joyful event was held on the twenty- 
second day of April. Far, however, from any feeling of self- 
glorification, their rejoicings were toned by the Rev. Mr. Hitch- 
cock to the text of " Not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name 
give glory." Cannons were fired ; bells rung ; flags displayed ; 
speeches made ; the proclamation repeatedly read, and, in fact, the 
town never before nor since has shown such general rejoicing. 
And it had reason to, as it never has had before or since. It could 
now sit down and calmly estimate the cost and the result of the 
war. In numbers they were about the same as at its commence- 
ment. The loss from the war had a little more than kept pace 
with the normal increase of the population. In i774 tnere were 
4,321 inhabitants; in 1782, there were 4,306. The loss of prop- 
erty was incalculable. Their commercial interests were destroyed. 
The currency of the country was valueless. All exchanges of 
property were reduced to a barter system. Providence, however, 
was not a town whose inhabitants would sit down and aimlessly 
wring their hands over their losses. During the latter part of the 
war they had made strenuous eftorts to revive their trade. Their 
still-houses had been kept in operation, and trade with Africa and 
the Spanish and French West Indies had been kept up ; and 
immediately upon the establishment of peace this trade was ex- 
tended and enlarged and the coasting and European trade cul- 
tivated, while John Brown, and others after him, embarked in 
the East India trade, making their head-quarters at India Point, 
which soon became the most flourishing section of the town. 
One result of the war with the misfortunes of southern parts of the 
state, was to make Providence the leading town, a supremacy it 
has ever since maintained. 

The development of the growth of the town was now renewed. 
A new highway was laid out in 1 783 from Back or Benefit Street 
to Ferry Lane. This last name, instead of belonging, as 100 years 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



6j 



before, to Hope Street, was now given to the way leading from 
Hope Street to the upper ferry, and both Ferry Lane and the new 
street were later united under the name of Angell Street, now 
Angell and South Angell streets. 

In January, 1784, there was a flood on the Moshassuck, carry- 
ing destruction in its course nearly to the Weybosset Bridge. It 
was computed that the destruction wrought by this flood was 
nearly as great, relatively, as that caused by the burning of the 
town in the King Philip War, and that only the opportunity 
afforded by the Cove for the waters to spread and abate their force 
saved the town street from total destruction. 

In February of this year, 1886, we have seen, on a smaller scale, 
what the Moshassuck may do " when its angry waters rise," and 
have appreciated the advantage of even the present reduced Cove 
in the same way. 

In 1785 ex-Gov. Stephen Hopkins died. 

The currency question was the main one of the day. The Con- 
tinental currency had depreciated till it had gone out of use. Many 
inhabitants of the state were yet believers in the old bank system 
of the colonial days. The citizens of Providence were almost 
unanimous in the desire that nothing but gold and silver should 
be used as a currency. The country was as unanimous in favor of 
the bank, and a feeling of antagonism between the "town" and 
"country" (the "town" being Providence and the "country" 
the rest of the state) grew out of this dispute, remains of which 
are sometimes seen in the legislature to this day. The country 
party commanded the most votes in the legislature, and a bank of 
X 1 00,000 was ordered issued* in May, 1786. The depreciation 
commenced immediately, and in June, 1786, the state by legisla- 
tion affixed a penalty upon the refusal to receive its issues at par, 
to force its use upon the town party. The merchants and traders 
forming the latter thereupon closed their stores. The farmers who 
had received the bills and mortgaged their farms for the same, then 
resolved not to bring any produce of their farms to market. It 
was a sad and solemn state Of affairs, and the farmers were the 
losers by it. The merchants and traders could and did send abroad 
for food supplies. The farmers had no facilities for so obtaining 
merchandise. The indignant farmers called a convention, resolved 
that the money should pass current, and at a special session of the 
legislature, passed a more stringent law to enforce the use of the 
bills. The law so passed was declared by the Supreme Court in 
the case of Trevet vs. Weeden, to be unconstitutional. The 
country party enraged at this decision, cited the judges to appear 
before the legislature at a session held in October and answer for 
it. The judges, through David Howel, the youngest member of 
the bench, declared that " for the reasons of their judgment upon' 
any question judicially before them they were accountable only to 
God and their own consciences," and proceeded to demonstrate 
the unconstitutionality of the law. The legislature declared the 
judges at fault, and proposed to discharge them from office ; but 
fortunately for the credit of the state, wiser counsel prevailed and 
the judges were finally excused from attendance on the legislature. 
Many wild plans were proposed. As an instance, a law was 
pressed that every citizen should on a certain day make oath or 
affirmation that he would use his best endeavors to give the cur- 
rency a value equal to gold and silver, and any one refusing to do 
so was to be deprived of the right to hold office, the right to vote, 
and the right to testify in the courts. Fortunately, this bill and 
others equally wild never became laws. 

Finally a reaction to common sense came on. The bank issue 
was steadily and rapidly depreciating, and in September, 1789, 
the law making it a legal tender was repealed. From February, 
1793, it was destroyed as fast as received, in payment of taxes, 
and in May, 1803, £96,646 had been destroyed. The following 
table shows the rates of depreciation fixed at different times by the 
legislature on this unfortunate issue : 




LIEUT.-COL. SAMUEL WARD, 
A Distinguished Officer of the Revolution, and Son of Gov. Samuel Ward 

July, 1786, 6 shillings in silver equal 9 in bills. 

October, 1786, 6 shillings in silver equal. . . 18 " " 

January, 1787, 6 shillings in silver equal. . . 24 " " 

April, 1787, 6 shillings in silver equal 34 " " 

April, 1788, 6 shillings in silver equal 38 " " 

July, 1788, 6 shillings in silver equal 45 " " 

January, 1789, 6 shillings in silver equal. . . 60 " " 

July, 1789, 6 shillings in silver equal 90 " " 

At this latter rate these bills have been received in payment of 
taxes as late as 1 819. 

While this contest was convulsing the state and tending to 
paralyze its development, another one of equal violence was for- 
mulating. The Articles of Confederation which had held the thir- 
teen United States together during the Revolutionary War were 
deemed unsuitable for a permanent government, and in March, 
1787, Congress recommended the several states to appoint dele- 
gates to a convention to revise the same. The General Assembly 
of Rhode Island declined sending delegates. Nevertheless, the 
convention was held, and the constitution of the United States 
framed during the summer of that year. 

It was laid before the October session of the legislature, with 
the request that it might be laid before a convention of the people 
of the state. The legislature ordered it to be printed and circu- 
lated and the question of its adoption referred to the freemen at 
their several town-meetings. There is no doubt but that the 
several states were all opposed to the adoption of this constitution 
as it originally stood. They were averse to the giving up of their 
state sovereignity. Those who did accept it only did so on a 
tacit understanding that the amendments proposed at the first ses- 
sion of Congress should be adopted, and even then they only ac- 
cepted it as a choice between two evils. Rhode Island waited 
till those amendments were made before she adopted it. The 
first reference of the question of its adoption to the people was 
simply farcical. In Providence there was one vote cast on the 
subject by Samuel Sampson, and that one against it. In the state 
generally, more than one half of the freemen abstained from voting, 
and the only towns that voted for it were Bristol and Little Comp- 
ton, and they only voted for it from the feeling that the town 



Digitized by 



Google 



64 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



party was against it, and the country party must vote against the 
town. In less than two years, however, the town party was in 
favor of the adoption of the amended constitution, and the country 
party against it. The constitution of the United States was no- 
where more thoroughly discussed and understood than in Provi- 
dence and Rhode Island. When it was finally adopted it was 
done understanding^, and this state has ever since stood loyally 
by it. Before the year 1789 Providence was largely in favor of 
adopting the constitution as it stood, with the expectation that it 
would be immediately amended. 

The convention framing the constitution had agreed that it 
should go into effect when nine of the thirteen states adopted it, 
and that then the old Articles of Confederation should be consid- 
ered canceled. In June, 1788, New Hampshire, the ninth state, 
adopted it. The news reached here on the 24th, and a general 
celebration was held. The church bells were rung through the 
whole day, salutes fired, schools dismissed, students and professors 
in college paraded, speeches made, etc., and the citizens on the 
27th decided to celebrate this event as well as the declaration of 
independence on the next fourth day of July, by services in the First 
Baptist Meeting-house and a barbacue on Smith's Hill, then called 
Federal Plain, inviting the public of town and country to join 
with them, and extending special invitations to all general state 
officers. This was gall and wormwood to the country party. 
The services at the church might be all right, but " there were 
several thousand countrymen would know the reason why" an^ 
ox should be barbecued to celebrate the success of such an instru- 
ment of evil as the constitution of the United States and that insult 
should be added to injury by inviting the members and leaders of 
the "country," who were opposed to it, to join in the festive 
occasion. Accordingly, armed with flint locks, pitchforks, flails, 
and other bucolic weapons, they came to investigate. If it was 
simply a celebration of July 4th, well and good. If it was a 
celebration of the adoption of the United States Constitution by 
nine states, then it was a matter that must be stopped, even at 
the expense of internecine war. 

It seems absurd and almost incredible, but the sandy soil of 
Smith's Hill came near being drenched with human gore on that 
occasion, and the heated blood of the bucolic visitants, who stood 
guard on the grounds during the long hours of a rainy, drizzly 
night and morning, only cooled down when, after conferring to- 
gether, " it was agreed on the part of the town that they would 
not celebrate the day on account of the adoption of the new con- 
stitution in any respect whatsoever ; that no salutes should be fired 
or toasts drunk in honor of such constitution, or in honor of any 
state or states which have adopted said constitution. . . 
That the celebration of the day should be in honor of the inde- 
pendence of America, and that only," etc., etc. 

It required a committee of five leading citizens of the town, 
headed by Welcome Arnold, and one of seven, headed by William 
West, judge of the Supreme Court, of the country, to negotiate 
this delicate piece of diplomacy or tomfoolery, whichever the 
reader prefers to consider it. 

In this month of July Virginia and New York accepted the 
constitution of the United States, and in November, 1789, North 
Carolina, the twelfth of the thirteen original states, had adopted 
the constitution, leaving Rhode Island standing out alone. This 
state of affairs could not last long. Rhode Island was liable to 
be treated by the rest of the United States as a foreign country. 
When the first Congress met in March, 1789, petitions had been 
sent to them that Rhode Island might be considered for commer- 
cial and tariff purposes as a member of the Union, and this re- 
quest had been temporarily granted. At this session of Congress 
the first eleven amendments of the constitution were proposed and 
submitted to the people of the several states for ratification. These 



amendments removed many of the objections to the constitution, 
and the feeling of Rhode Island in its favor grew stronger. 

In the January session of the legislature, held at Providence, 
1790, Benjamin Bourne, Representative of Providence, renewed a 
motion for a convention to decide on the adoption of the consti- 
tution. A majority of the Representatives voted for it. In the 
Senate a majority of one voted against it. The vote was taken 
on a Saturday night and the Senate adjourned till Sunday. One 
of the opposing Senators was a pastor and felt that his duty to his 
church called him away from the legislature on Sunday. When 
the vote was considered on that day there was a tie vote and the 
governor's casting vote determined the tie in favor of the conven- 
tion. " On how small a pivot turns the wheel of destiny." On 
that Sunday morning the churches were almost deserted and the 
halls of legislation, with the grounds around the County House, 
were thronged with anxious citizens, unable to withstand the im- 
pulse that called them there, and when the question was decided, 
the usual quiet of a Providence Sunday was rent in fragments by 
the glad shouts of cheer that rose to heaven. This calling of a 
convention was, however, but one step towards the adoption of 
the constitution. A majority of the country party was violently 
opposed to it, and the convention was to meet at South Kings- 
town. Opposed to the constitution, yet afraid to set the state in 
foreign relations to the United States, as an absolute rejection 
would have done, the convention temporized and adjourned till 
the last Monday in May, 1790, to meet in Newport. 

The United States authorities were disgusted with this trifling, 
and it was well understood that Rhode Island must take its stand 
in or out of the Union — one or the other. The freemen of Provi- 
dence in town-meeting assembled, instructed their delegates in case 
the convention should not adopt the constitution, to protest against 
such action and to take measures as a town to join the United 
States. The committee which prepared these instructions con-« 
sisted of John Brown, Welcome Arnold, John Dorrance, Ger- 
shom Jones, Jeremiah Olney, George Benson, Zephaniah An- 
drews, Joseph Nightingale, and David Cooke — all good men and 
true, wise men and patriotic men. What disintegration might 
have followed had the delegates been obliged to use the powers 
thus vested in them, it is impossible to say. Fortunately the 
necessity did not arise. The convention met on Monday. After 
a week's exciting session the question was put on Saturday after- 
noon and decided in favor of the constitution by a majority of 
two. The news reached the anxious citizens of Providence early 
the next morning, and for the second time in this contest the usual 
quiet of Sunday was broken by the spontaneous outbursts of joy 
from the hearts of the people. On Tuesday, following, the day 
was devoted to rejoicings commemorative of the event — cannon 
roared, bells rang, flags flew, speeches were made, and all the 
usual signs of rejoicings testified to the joy of the citizens that 
Providence and the state had entered upon a new era in its career. 
The adoption of the constitution of the United States put an end 
to all possibilities of future emissions of paper money by the 
state. All future banks are those where the term is used in the 
modern sense of the word. 

While the minds of the towns-people had been mainly occupied 
with these political matters, an era of manufacturing prosperity 
had dawned upon them so quietly that, immersed in the fog of 
politics, they were unaware of the sun burst that was about to 
shed its glory around them. Since 1783 the attention of the 
people of Providence and vicinity had been given largely to at- 
tempts to spin cotton and wool by power. Machines were made 
and set up in Providence by Providence mechanics as early as 
1787, that would spin cotton yarn, but they were never practically 
available, being too heavy to run by hand and too loosely built to 
stand the strain of greater power. The Providence mechanics 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



6* 



would probably have overcome their defects but for the fact that 
Samuel Slater came to this country, bringing in his head designs 
of the Arkwright spinning machinery. He was employed by 
John and Moses Brown to attempt to run the- Providence in- 
vented machines, above mentioned, by water-power at Pawtucket. 
He found the machines unavailable, and built from his own de- 
signs Arkwright machines for the Browns, and at Pawtucket the 
first cotton yarn (filling) ever spun by water-power in America 
was made in 1790. 

In 1788, one John Fullem worked a stocking loom in Provi- 
dence, and in March of the same year a calendering machine 
worked by water-power was set up in the same town. From 
cotton spinning to wool spinning by power was a short step, and 
then commenced the development of the great textile manufactur- 
ing industries that to-day form such an important industrial ele- 
ment of Providence. With the increase of the cotton and woolen 
industries came the decline of one once deemed the main hope of 
the colony, the flax and linen industry. In the early days all 
cloth made in the colony was woolen or linen. Before the intro- 
duction of power spinning cotton was never made into a yarn 
strong enough to serve as warp, and cotton was only used as a 
filling with a linen woof; but with the coming of Slater and 
power spinning came the ability to make a cotton yarn suitable for 
warping, and to-day there is no linen cloth or yarn made in Provi- 
dence. 

Bowkn Street and the Roger Williams Home Lot. 

In 1786 Bowen Street was accepted and adopted between Main 
and Benefit streets. It ran through the former homestead of Dr. 
Jabez Bowen, who had become possessor of the John Throck- 
morton home lot, the northern half of which he conveyed to 
Benjamin Bowen, his son, whose executors laid out this street. 
The Roger Williams home lot is largely connected with the later 
development of this street to the eastward. At Roger Williams' 
death his home lot descended, under the law of primogeniture, 
to Providence Williams, his oldest son. Upon Providence's de- 
cease, childless and unmarried, about 1685, it passed to his oldest 
brother, Daniel, and upon his death to his son Peleg. It is inter- 
esting, as showing the mode often adopted in those days of dis- 
posing of one's estate, to note that Daniel Williams, while upon 
his death-bed, caused deeds to be drawn up, the execution and 
delivery of which would have divided his real estate among his 
children, instead of its all going to Peleg under the law of primo- 
geniture. He died, however, before executing them. Peleg find- 
ing himself heir to the whole, with an honesty and integrity 
worthy of his honored grandfather, caused deeds to be prepared, 
and " for love and good will" conveyed to the other children 

what his father had in- 
tended them to have. By 
such a deed the home lot 
was conveyed to his 
younger brother Roger. 
This Roger, after selling 
oflf small portions on the 
west end, sold the balance 
of the estate to his son- 
in-law, David Thayer. 
David Thayer, after con- 
veying sundry small lots 
to various parties, sold 
the remainder to the 
above - named Benjamin 
Bowen, whose executors, 
after laying out Bowen 
Street and selling a few 





COLONEL BARTON, 
The Captor of General Prescott. 



SILAS TALBOT, 
The Hero of the " Pigox " Affair. 



lots at the west end, sold the 
whole of his estate over to 
Ferry Lane (Hope Street), 
including the Roger Wil- 
liams home lot and one-half 
the Jabez Bowen homestead 
estate east of Benefit, to 
Zachariah and Philip Allen. 
They and their heirs have 
since laid out Bowen Street 
eastward to Hope Street. 
From Congdon Street to 
Hope Street it is a fine 
avenue sixty feet wide, and 
the south line of the Roger 
Williams home lot lies with- 
in its bounds. The north 
line of this home lot can still 
be traced, with scarcely an interruption, in the boundary lines ot 
estates from Hope to Congdon streets, and by continuing said line 
it passes some thirty feet to the northward of the site of Roger 
Williams' home intersecting with North Main Street about fifty- 
two feet north of Howland Street. From Congdon to Hope 
streets this line is between ninety and one hundred feet north of 
the line of Bowen Street, and is straight except one angle, be- 
tween Prospect and Thayer streets, making a change of two 
degrees in the course. The average width of the home lot was 
about one hundred and twelve feet, and, as above remarked, the 
south line (east of Congdon Street) is in Bowen Street. By 
continuation said south line intersects North Main Street about 
„ twenty-eight feet north of the north corner of Bowen and North 
Main streets. As the last one hundred and ten feet of this south 
line was not straight with the rest, but angled slightly to it, the 
point of intersection can only be given approximately.- 

It would seem as if, in case this street were improved to sixty 
feet in width from Benefit Street to Hope Street, there would be 
a peculiar appropriateness in naming it Roger Williams Street, 
as it would be the only one in the city composed in such large 
part of and bounding in so long an extent on Roger Williams' 
home lot. 

The period covered by this chapter was most essentially a 
period of preparation — of fixing and determining the founda- 
tions on which a future development should rest. Politically, 
the first twenty years were passed in determining the relations 
between the plantations and the home government, England, 
and the last seven years in determining the relations, first, be- 
tween the " town party," having its head-quarters mainly in 
Providence, and the u country party," with its head-quarters in 
the agricultural portions of the county and state ; and second, its 
relations to the United States government. 

In commerce, manufactures, and means of transportation, the 
development of the town was practically suspended until the lat- 
ter period, and that period was spent in feeling for and preparing 
the way to the extraordinary development that the next forty 
years witnessed. 

In methods of transportation it was also a period of prepara- 
tion. The vessels of the beginning of this period present a 
marked contrast with the vessels of its close, when a more sea- 
worthy class was being constructed. 

In the matter of land transportation the same process was going 
on. By 1790 the roads had been much improved, and the people 
were fast being educated to a degree that led to the inauguration 
in the next decade of what may be called the " turnpike era " of 
our state, which is described in the chapter on transportation 
facilities. 



Digitized by 



Google 



66 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



L 







: 'Wmm]m 


Ma 

"W3t * 


) 

i 

1 

j 

1 

! 


V ~ * 


SB's 
"V * - 

-Mr « 

— -HP" ' 


i 



fc*ss&*ai 



StfBp 



Hip 



iHi 








v"iv 




\ 



\ 



^ 



^ 



i 



I! 



U o 



U HI 

u • 

z £ 

Q o 

I I 



o 
UJ u 

f I 

U. 3 

o • 



O -6 






Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter VIII. 



PROVIDENCE CLOSES ITS CAREER AS A TOWN, 1790-1832. 



CHANGES SINCE 1 763 — MAIL FACILITIES — SHIPPING — PROVIDENCE BANK — FIRST STEAMBOAT — NEW BRIDGES — TOWNHOUSE — 

NEW STREETS VALUATION IN 1 796 FIRST DENTIST YELLOW FEVER WATER STREET NIGHT WATCH FREE MASONS 

AND TOWN MARKET BUILDING — SUFFRAGE — FREE SCHOOLS — INSURANCE — INDIA POINT IN 180O — GREAT FIRE IN l8oi — 

FIRST MAP OF PROVIDENCE — NAMING OF STREETS FLOOD OF 1807 TOWN IN 1808 WHIPPING POST POPULATION, 

ETC., IN l8lO DRIFTING INTO WAR PATRIOTIC ACTION OF TOWN — OLIVER HAZARD PERRY ON LAKE ERIE MANUFAC- 
TURING TAKING THE PLACE OF FOREIGN COMMERCE — IMPROVEMENT IN MEANS OF COMMUNICATION — FIRST CONGREGATIONAL 
MEETING-HOUSE DESTROYED — BLOCKADE — PREPARATIONS FOR DEFENSE — IRISHMEN'S DAY — PEACE — SEPTEMBER GALE, 

1 815 NEW WEYBOSSET BRIDGE — STAGES — PROVIDENCE TO NEW YORK IN TWO DAYS — STEAMER " FIREFLY " — PRESIDENT 

MONROE'S VISIT — THE ELEPHANT — FISH MARKET — INSTITUTION FOR SAVINGS — POPULATION AND BUSINESS IN 182O — 
NEW ERA IN BUSINESS BUILDINGS — STREET LIGHTING — SHIPPING — SIDEWALK COMMITTEE AND THEIR WORK — STEAMER 
TO NEW YORK — REMOVAL OF SNOW — SMOKING ON THE STREETS PROHIBITED — DIRECTORY AND MAP — ATTEMPTS TO 

FORM A CONSTITUTION — EBENEZER KNIGHT DEXTER BLACKSTONE CANAL — ITS EFFECT ON PROVIDENCE — SECOND GREAT 

FIRE — BABCOCK ENGINES — NEW MARKETS — MONUMENT TO ROGER WILLIAMS — TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT — ARCADE — 

WASHINGTON INSURANCE COMPANY BRIDGE STAGES, RAILROADS, ETC. — ANTHRACITE COAL AND WOOD FUEL — CITY 

CHARTER PROPOSED AND LOST — OLNEY STREET RIOTS — CITY CHARTER GRANTED AND ADOPTED — END OF THE TOWN OF 
PROVIDENCE. 

peaceful development, which, so far as domes- 
tic tranquillity is concerned, has never since 
been disturbed save by the short flurry of the 
Dorr War in 1842. A verbal view of Provi- 
dence in 1763 has been given. One in 179° 
shows but little change. The Market House 
had been built ; the Rhode Island College at 
the top of the hill had been established ; Pros- 
pect Street had been laid out from Olney Street 
to Jail Lane, now Meeting Street ; Angell and 
Waterman streets, east of Benefit, had been 
laid out to Hope Street, with a few cross 
streets ; Howland, Bo wen, Hanover, now Col- 
lege, and Hopkins streets, established between 
the main or town street and Benefit. A few 
streets were laid out on Tockwotton Hill, but 
there were very few buildings upon them ; the 
south side of Wickenden Street in that section 
was partially built upon ; Main Street (South 
and North) was paved from Crawford Street 
on the south to Meeting Street on the north. 
The new County House, now State House, the 
Whipple Hall school-house, the town school- 
house on Jail Lane, now Meeting Street, and 
a little more frequency as to houses in the 
country parts constitute about all the changes 
to be seen on the east side, save a gradual im- 
provement in architecture of buildings, with a general filling out 
and building of wharves further to the west of the town street. 

On the west side a greater change was visible. Westminster 
Street was built upon generally on both sides, and so was Wey- 
bosset and a part of Broad Street, with some cross streets be- 
tween the two. On the Cowpens and Eddy's points were 
wharves and buildings, but between Weybosset Street and Eddy's 
Point was a large cove, covering twenty or more acres. 




AN OLO LANDMARK.— "THE COFFEE HOUSE." 
Formerly at the Corner of Canal Street and Market Square. 

At last the long and weary "struggle for existence" is over. 
After an almost continuous contest of 154 years against first the 
sister colonies and the Indians, then foreign foes and civil usurpa- 
tions of the home government, then the armed forces of that 
home, now ceased to be home, government, and finally the 
jealousy of the country as against the town, Providence had at 
last, as an integral portion of the State of Rhode Island and 
Providence Plantations, which latter, in turn, was an integral por- 
tion of the United States of America, settled into a career of 



The mail facilities were much increased ; one to the West and 



Digitized by 



Google 



68 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



South closing on Mondays and Thursdays, and arriving on Tues- 
days and Fridays ; while the eastern mails closed on Tuesdays 
and Fridays, and arrived on Mondays and Thursdays. 

The town is described at this time as being u a place of more 
navigation than any of its size in the Union ; and there is a 
greater number of vessels belonging to this port than to New 
York." The number by actual count in March, 1 790, was : ships, 
9; brigs, 36; schooners, 20; sloops, 45 ; giving a total of no, 
having a burthen of 10,590 tons, without counting river packets, 
boats, and shallops. And as showing the growth of the town we 
may state that in June; 1791, about a year later, it was: ships, 
12 ; brigantines, 35 ; snows, 1 ; polaccas, 1 ; sloops, 56 ; schooners, 
25; total, 130; burthen, 12,103 tons « 

The only attempt at police regulation, besides the election of a 
town sergeant and constables, was a night watch established 
since 1775, first of four, and after 1778, of six men, who went 
their rounds after ten o'clock in pairs. 

In October, 1791? the Providence Bank, the earliest and conse- 
quently now the oldest of our banks of discount and deposit was 
organized on the third of the month, and at the session of the 
General Assembly on the last Monday of that month it received 
a charter of incorporation. 

In 1792 the first steamboat ever seen in Providence waters, 
and one of the first ever seen in the world, was constructed by 
Elijah Ormsbee, a Providence mechanic. He called it the " Ex- 
periment," and it was used successfully on the Providence River. 
It was considered rather as an interesting mechanical phenomenon 
than as an article of use. The men of Providence did not dream 
of the future of steam navigation, and waited till the genius of 
Fulton inaugurated its era. 

In 1792 Weybosset Bridge was rebuilt and enlarged, a sure evi- 
dence of prosperity. It was widened from twenty to fifty-six 
feet, and the eastern abutment was extended forty feet into the 
river to allow room for a proposed '• Water Street" to pass over. 
A draw was placed in it to allow of vessels passing to the wharves 
to the northward. This draw was the subject of an acrimonious 
discussion between the different sections of the town. The south- 
ern and western portions contending that it was not needed, while 
the northern part, loath to lose their ancient facilities, demanded 
it. The north end had force enough to secure its claims, and the 
bridge was built with a clumsy old-fashioned draw, liable at any 
time to suspend traffic across it. 

This seemed to be a bridge building year, for John Brown, at 
India Point, in the same year, secured the building of the Wash- 
ington Bridge across the Seekonk at Fuller's Ferry, and Moses 
Brown initiated the building of the Moses Brown, Central, or 
Red Bridge, as it has been variously called, at the upper, Ed- 
monds', ferry. This latter bridge was finished in 1793. 

The southern part of the town increased in wealth and popula- 
tion rapidly. In 1793 it was proposed to raise the town Market 
House and provide a town hall in the added story, but after much 
discussion the matter was finally settled by the town purchasing 
the Congregational Church at the corner of Benefit and Hanover 
(College) streets, which then became the old Town House of the 
last generation, and providing that the town clerk should keep his 
records, and the town council should meet, in the Market House 
chambers. 

The Congregational Society, after the sale of their meeting- 
house and lot, purchased the lot now occupied by them on the 
east side of Benefit Street, (corner of Benevolent) and erected a 
beautiful double-spired building, shown in view of Providence in 
1808 on page 69. 

In 1794 George and Williams streets were laid out from Ben- 
efit east to Hope Street, and the use of land to the east of Benefit 
Street for residences greatly popularized. Williams Street was 



named after Roger Williams by his descendants, the Thayers, 
through whose land it ran. The west side was not behind the 
east in improvements. New streets were laid out, new dwel- 
lings and stores erected, and in 1794, the first building erected ex- 
clusively for use as a theatre was built on Westminster Street, on 
the site of the present Grace Church. 

The actual and comparative growth of the town can be well 
seen in statistics. In 1782, the valuation of the town was £217,- 
000, say $1,085,000, which was about one-fifteenth the valuation 
of the state ($14,500,000). In 1796, it was $2,950,000, which 
was nearly one-fifth the total valuation of the state ($15,500,000). 
It is apparent that while Providence was rapidly advancing in 
wealth, other parts of the state were actually retrograding. 

About this time, commenced the very important, to the comfort 
of our citizens, art and practice of scientific dentistry. Hitherto 
the " barber surgeon," or, at best, the empiric practice of the 
physicians and surgeons had been the only resource of the towns- 
men for dental care and relief. The earliest advance from the 
old practice was in October, 1791, when J. Greenwood (from 
Boston) advertised that "he transplants teeth or grafts natural 
teeth to remaining roots in the jaw ; and a late discovery has en- 
abled him to substitute teeth, from one to a complete set, that will 
vie in beauty with the most brilliant natural ones, without ex- 
tracting the fangs or producing the least uneasiness. . . . As 
he proposes to stay but a few days in this place (owing to his en- 
gagements elsewhere), he solicits immediate attention." 

He found sufficient patronage to induce him a few years later to 
make this town his permanent home with an office on Westmin- 
ster Street. In spite of his advertisement specimens of his work 
and tools, undoubtedly in the highest style of the art of that day, 
now in the possession of the veteran dentist of our city, Dr. J. S. 
Thornton, would seem to one accustomed to the present high 
state of the art, to be " worse than the disease." The old-fash- 
ioned " turn-key " then in use was sure to do one of two things 
— it drew the tooth or broke the jaw. The artificial sets he 
made furnished teeth,* but gave the lower part of the wearer's 
face the appearance of a prognathous ape. 

In 1797 the town was afflicted with a scourge of yellow fever, 
which, feeding on the exhalations from the stagnant docks west 
of the town street, swept oft' many of the most prominent citizens. 

We have noted that when, in 1792, Weybosset Bridge was re- 
built, it was arranged for a " Water Street " to run on its eastern 
side. Since then the land had been filled out and the street made, 
then North Water, now part of Canal Street, north of the bridge 
as far as Steeple Street. There it stopped short for a generation. 
It was not till the building of the Blackstone Canal in i826-'28, 
that it was continued to Smith Street ; to the southward nothing 
was done towards it (the South Water Street of the present day) 
till three successive scourges of the yellow fever had taught the 
townsmen some severe lessons in sanitary science, and the devas- 
tation wrought by the September gale of 181 5 necessitated re- 
building along its course. Then its construction was begun. 

In 1796-7, it was deemed necessary to re-organize the night 
watch ; twelve men were chosen, six serving on each alternate 
night. These men gathered in a watch-house, twelve feet square 
and seven feet high, erected on Market Square, and thence issued 
in three pairs at ten o'clock. One pair went north ; one went 
south, and one went west, and continued patrolling the streets 
till the ringing of the " sunrise bell." They wore the old-fash- 
ioned camlet cloaks, and each carried as his badge of office a staff 
about six feet long with a hook at the end. Of the class of men 
employed, it is sufficient to say that the council found it necessary 
in 1800 to forbid them entering any house during their beat for 
the purpose of obtaining intoxicating liquors. These men were 
ordered to stop any man found on the street after eleven o'clock, 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



69 



and take his name ; the refusal to give one's name was conclusive 
evidence that the party was u a disorderly person," and justified 
his arrest. 

In 1797 the town granted to the Saint John's Lodge of Free 
and Accepted Masons the privilege of adding a new story to the 
upper part of the Market building, to be used by them as a ball 
until the town should see fit (paying them for the improvement) 
to take possession, they in the meantime to keep the roof in re- 
pair. When this improvement was completed the building as- 
sumed, save the eastern projection for a staircase afterwards 



before its repeal Providence established a free school system in 
the year 1800, and has maintained it ever since. 

They provided four schools : one in Whipple Hall, on Benefit 
Street, north of Halsey ; one in the Brick School House (on Meet- 
ing Street) ; one to be erected in the south part of the town (on 
Transit Street) , and one to be erected in the west part of the town 
(corner of Friendship and Claverick streets) ; raised a special tax 
of $6,000, and appropriated other funds to pay the expenses of the 
same. The new school-houses were built, and on the last Mon- 
day in October, 1800, all four schools were opened, that in the 




A VIEW OF PROVIOENCE IN 1808, FROM FEOERAL HILL. 
Drawn from a Scene painted on an Old Drop Curtain, by Worrall, of Boston, and used from 1811 to 183 2 in the Old Providence Theatre, which formerly 

stood on the present site of Grace Church. 



added, the external appearance the building occupied by the 
Board of Trade presents to-day. 

Providence has always been in advance of the rest of the state 
in the movement to enlarge the suffrage. In 1798 the suffrage 
party succeeded in enlarging it so as to cover all male citizens 
owning $134 worth of real estate, or real estate producing an in- 
come of seven dollars per annum, and the eldest son of such owner. 

With the first revival of interests after the Revolutionary War, 
renewed attempts had been made to introduce a free school sys- 
tem. In 1785 several private schools were taken by the town, and 
funds set apart for payment of rentals and repairs, fuel, etc., so 
that the expenses to be borne by the pupils were reduced to that 
of tuition only. Further attempts were made in this line in 1791. 
In September, 1792, the town resolved to establish free schools, 
but the matter ended in " resolution." In 1795 the town again 
resolved to establish " schools for the free education of the inhab- 
itants of the town, and that the expense of supporting the same 
be defrayed out of the town treasury," — as vain a resolution as the 
preceding one. In February, 1799, the Providence Association of 
Mechanics and Manufacturers, with John Howland as chief actor 
in the movement, presented to the legislature a petition to provide 
for the establishment of free schools in every town in the state. 
After a severe contest between the friends and enemies of the 
measure, lasting a year, in February, 1800, a bill to that effect be- 
came a law. This law was too advanced to meet with general 
approbation throughout the state, and was repealed in 1803, but 
JO 



first district, Whipple Hall, under Mr. Dexter, with 180 scholars ; 
that in the second district, Brick School House, under Mr. Noyes, 
with 230 scholars ; that in the third district, Transit Street, under 
Mr. Farnum, with 240 scholars ; that in the fourth district, cor- 
ner Friendship and Claverick streets, under Mr. Wilson, with 338 
scholars. 

For forty years and probably more, before the close of the 
eighteenth century, insurance (mostly of marine risks) had been 
1 adopted as a business by private underwriters in the town of 
Providence, but the first instance of their combining into a cor- 
porate body was that of the Providence Washington Insurance 
Company, organized in February, 1799. This company not only 
gave stability and security to insurance interests, but in many 
other ways was of material moment in securing the future pros- 
perity of the town. 

By the census taken in the year 1800, we find the population 
of the town of Providence had increased to 7,614. At this time 
the southern and eastern part of the town was growing faster 
than the western, having about two-thirds of the total population. 
The East India and China trade was centred at India Point, with 
distilleries, rope-walks, a glass house, and auxiliary trades there 
located. The West India trade had its shipping with head-quar- 
ters in Providence River to the north of Transit Street, while still 
further to the north, even to Smith Street, the coastwise traffic 
mainly found wharfage. From the town street a road had been 
laid out across Mile End Cove and round Fox Hill, called shore 



Digitized by 



Google 



70 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



road, now (in part) India Street, to connect with the India Point 
wharves, and a solitary wharf, near where the Bristol railroad 
depot now stands, projected from the hill into the river, — the 
precursor of the present Fox Point. 

But as the town was thus rapidly advancing, she was smitten 
with a cruel disaster. On the 21st of January, 1801, an alarm of 
fire was given from John Corlis' large brick store, on the west 
side of South Main Street, nearly opposite Planet. It was bit- 
terly cold and the wind blowing fiercely from the north drove 
the flames from building to building on both sides of the street. 
The feeble, ineffectual engines of those days could not stop the 
ravages of the fire, and it was only by blowing up with gunpow- 
der, and then pulling down the debris of the buildings to leeward 
of it, that its progress was finally checked. The conflagration 
' destroyed thirty-seven buildings, sixteen of which were dwelling- 
houses, ten, stores, and eleven, outbuildings, in all valued at 
$300,000. The community has since suffered from fires where a 
larger amount of property has been destroyed, but never in its his- 
tory since King Philip's War have so many families been ren- 
dered homeless at one burning. 

In 1803 Daniel Anthony, who had been for years the leading 
surveyor, constructed the first map of the town ever made. For- 
tunately, although copies of it are now rarely seen, we are able to 
reproduce on page 71 a. facsimile of it, and a study of its out- 
lines shows a remarkable variance from those of the present day, 
and enables us to trace the topographical changes from 1646 
(page 37) to that in 1823 (page 66) , and thence to that of to-day.* 

In 1805 the streets of the town were first authoritatively named. 
Before that time many streets had no distinctive names. Some 
names were at various times given to different streets : thus, Ferry 
Lane was at one time given to the street now called Hope Street ; 
at another, to the streets now South Angell and Angell from the 
Edmond's ferry (Red Bridge) to Hope Street ; at another to 
Wickenden Street leading to the south (Fuller's) ferry. Meeting 
Street was at one time called Jail Lane, at another, King Street ; 
College Street (between Market Square and Benefit Street) was 
at one time called Hanover Street, at another, the lane to the 
Congregational meeting-house ; Hopkins Street was at times called 
Bank Lane, and Howland Street was, when first laid out, known 
as Bowen Alley. Different parts of the same street had at times 
different names — thus the town street, now North and South 
Main streets, was sometimes called Main Street, and at one time 
its different parts were called, commencing at the north, Main 
Street, Constitution Hill, Prince Street, (from foot of the hill to 
Williams' home lot), Williams Street, (from thence to Court 
House Parade) , Main Street, (from thence to Steeple Street) , 
Cheapside, (from thence to Market Square), Main Street, (from 
thence to Planet Street) , Broadway, (from thence to Williams 
Street), and Water Street (from thence to its then termination). 
The confusion resulting from this multiplicity and frequent pop- 
ular change of designations, led to the naming of the streets by 
town ordinance. 

In 1807 occurred the most disastrous flood that the town has 
suffered since the memorable one of 1784. On the Seekonk, 
both the Central (Red) , and the Washington bridges were carried 
away, leaving the town dependent on ferriage for its communica- 
tion to the eastward, while the angry Moshassuck bore ofT on its 
upraised back both the Mill and Smith Street bridges, and but for 
the pacifying influence of the Cove, again saving the lower part of 
the town, would have wrought untold damage. Fortunately, the 
town was in much better condition to bear such losses than in 
former years, and all these bridges were speedily rebuilt. Recov- 

• It roust be remembered in consulting this map that Mr. Anthony in making it, (as has 
been done by map makers of a later date), inserted projected improvements as already 
made, and thus the wharves and docks and streets around Fox Hill were mostly in embryo at 
that time, and when constructed, did not always coincide with those indicated on the map. 



ering herself from this disaster, the town pressed forward in the 
development of its resources. We are able to present to the 
reader a pictorial view of the town taken in 1808, which gives a 
more vivid impression of the appearance at that time of a large 
portion of it than words can do. The view was taken from near 
the present junction of Atwell's Avenue and Broadway. Its 
northward limit is at about the present corner of Cushing and 
Prospect streets, and its southern at Mile End Cove. In judging 
of the town by this view, it must be remembered that all the re- 
gion known as Charlestown, and which many years before had 
been the principal part of the town, as well as what was then the 
most prosperous and rapidly growing portion, India Point, are 
not here shown. 

Up to the year 18 10, for a generation or more, the east end of 
the Great Bridge, or the space adjoining it, had been decorated 
with the whipping post and stocks, and there culprits were at 
stated times " whipped upon the bare back" for the benefit of 
humanity and themselves. The blood-curdling screams of the 
victims reechoed in the precincts of Market Square, till finally a 
sentiment grew up that such sights and sounds must at least be 
banished from the centre of the town. "The time was not ripe 
for the total abolishment of such penalties, but the whipping post 
and accessories were, as a compromise, removed to the State 
House yard. When this particular post became worn out, the 
(now) second tree from North Main Street, on the right hand side 
of the walk was used as a whipping post. A spike was driven 
into the west side of the tree a little more than six feet from the 
ground. The victim was lifted till his manacled wrists were 
caught over the spike. Then, he hanging by his wrists, his feet 
were drawn around the trunk of the tree and secured together, 
after which the stripes were laid on his bare back in the presence 
of an admiring crowd of onlookers. It is not pleasant to be re- 
minded of such things, and yet it is well, at times, in the pride 
and self-glorification of this age to recollect that but little more 
than fifty years ago (the last public whipping took place at this 
tree about 1834) sucn things were not uncommon in our city. 

By 1810 the population of the city had increased to 10,071. In 
this year by the private returns of Dr. John Mackie (no public 
mortuary records were then kept,) the number of deaths in the 
town were : men, 40 ; women, 53 ; children, 43 ; total, 136 ; equal 
to 13^ per 1,000; and the number of births in the same period 
was 334. 

In 181 1 the country was drifting into a condition that culmi- 
nated in the declaration of war against Great Britain in 181 2. 
Providence being mostly commercial in its business relations, was 
greatly a sufferer by the aggressive acts of the British government, 
yet its townsmen did not believe in war as an advisable source of 
relief, and testified to their belief by petitions, resolutions, and re- 
monstrances, addressed to the nation and to its government. 
When the President's proclamation declaring the war was re- 
ceived it was considered that a public calamity had fallen upon 
us. A day was set apart as a clay of mourning therefor. The 
bells of the several houses of worship were tolled the greater 
part of the day. The shops and stores were generally closed, and 
the flag of the town on the Great Bridge and those of the ship- 
ping at the wharves were displayed at half-mast. It was not 
want of patriotism, but a sincere conviction that the course of the 
government was wrong, that prompted this action. In August of 
the same year the freemen of the town unanimously pledged 
themselves, "at the hazard of all things, ... to aid in the 
support and complete execution of the laws . . . promptly," 
and on all occasions to resist, and, if possible, to repel, all hostile 
invasions of the enemy, and recommended all persons capable of 
bearing arms to be ready at a moment's warning to aid in defense 
of themselves, their families, and their country. During this 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



7i 



war, i8i2-'i5, there was some privateering carried on by the 
townsmen, but it was very little compared with that of the Rev- 
olutionary War. The attention of our people was being slowly 
diverted from commerce to manufacturing, and while in former 
years the uncertainties of commerce growing out of the Napo- 
leonic wars in Europe, the aggressive action of Great Britain in 
impressing men from American vessels, sometimes not leaving 
force on board sufficient to bring the vessels safely to port, had 
driven men's minds that way, this war seemed to impress more 
strongly upon them the advisability of developing home indus- 
tries, rather than those in their nature semi-foreign, and the 
cotton, woolen, iron, and other metallic industries, together with 
the manufacture of jewelry, that have since made our city a hive 
of activity and caused its rapid development, had mostly their 
inception, or the inception of their prototypes, during the period 
ending at this time. In the manufacture of cotton and woolen 
goods at this time, the spinning was done by pow r er, but the 
weaving was done by hand, being in the earlier days put out in 
webs to be woven by weavers in the neighborhood. In later 
days weave shops were built in connection with the spinning - 
mills and the weavers were ga tigered together at the mills. It 
was not till after 1817 that power looms were introduced, and the 
cotton and woolen industries received the great impulse that bore 
them on to their present condition. In these times, and even later, 
a cotton or woolen mill running 700 spindles was a large one, 
and almost none ran more than one thousand. Yet small as the 
separate mills were, there were 140,000 spindles in use within a 



radius of thirty miles from Providence in 1815 engaged in cotton 
spinning, and using 29,000 bales of cotton, producing 27,840,000 
yards of cloth. The weaving of this cloth cost eight cents per 
yard. The great textile industries only awaited the invention of 
the power loom before their era of supremacy should commence, 
and in 1817 a native of Providence Plantations, David Wilkinson, 
of Pawtucket, in North Providence, was the first person in Amer- 
ica to perfect and operate a practical power loom. 

The means of communication had become developed to the 
extent that a stage left Boston at 9 a. m., reached Providence the 
same day ; left at 4 A. M. next morning, reached Hartford at 7 
p. m. the same day; left there at 8 p. m., and arrived in New 
York the next morning. On the return trip they occupied thirty - 
nine hours from New York to Providence, stayed there over 
night and reached Boston the next day. This was a great im- 
provement on the first attempts at staging between Boston and 
New York, when a week was required to make the trip. Be- 
sides this land route there were " palatial packets" (sloops of 
from sixty to one hundred tons), running from Providence to 
New York, which made the trip in from two days to a week or 
two, depending on the weather and tides. 

Life in the town was very quiet during the first two years of the 
war. The merchants contracted their business and had as little 
at stake upon the ocean as possible. No enemy was feared upon 
land, and except the feeble movements in manufacturing, a state 
of stagnation resulted. 

The war had opened with a series of disastrous attempts 



<f<un f drrkhcny 














^lA,?fJ7lT 



jS jK&Hfrtt.Cv fVKi 



FAC SIMILE OF THE " DAN'L ANTHONY MAP" OF THE TOWN OF PROVIDENCE IN 1803. 
The first map ever made of the town. 



Digitized by 



Google 



72 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



against the British on the northern frontier. Misfortune seemed 
to await on every movement made by the American forces. On 
land they were defeated. On the waters of the great lakes the 
enemy were known to be in superior force, and the defeat of the 
American flotilla was expected, when, in September, 1813, the 
country was electrified by the dispatch received from Lieutenant 
(afterwards Commodore) Oliver Hazard Perry : "We have met 
the enemy and they are ours ; two ships, two brigs, one schooner, 
and one sloop." Though Perry was a native of Washington 
County, yet Providence took almost as great pride in his achieve- 
ment as it it was by one of its own citizens. 

This seemed the turning point of the war. After this time on 
the ocean the American navy did much to compensate the disas- 
ters on the land, while the capture of Detroit and the battle and 
victory of New Orleans seemed to retrieve the credit of the land 
forces of the nation. 

On June 14, 1814, the first destruction of a meeting-house by 
fire in the town took place, and the First Congregational Church 
on Benefit Street was destroyed. It is supposed that the fire was 
caused by an imbecile, who wished to see what kind of a sight the 
two steeples would make burning and falling to the ground. A 
reward was offered for the detection of the incendiary, but no one 
was ever punished for it, though if the people of that day were to 
be believed, there was no doubt as to who did the deed. The 
church was rebuilt as we see it now, immediately after. 

In July, 1814, a British fleet appeared off this coast, and on the 
1 6th of that month they blockaded the bay and captured several 
of the Providence packets running between here and New York. 
Immediately a state of excitement and defensive preparations 
arose, second only to that which existed during the Revolution- 
ary War. 

The growth of the town in the interval is well shown by the 
location of these defenses. In 1775 a fort on Fox Hill and one on 
Prospect Hill were the main works, and one on Fort Hill in Mas- 
sachusetts was subsidiary, while defenses on Field's Point were 
considered as outworks. In 1814, the main works were at Field's 
Point, with intrenchments and breastworks running thence to 
Mashapaug Pond, and a minor fortification on Kettle «Point in 
Massachusetts (now East Providence), opposite Field's Point, 
After these were erected, the old forts on Fox Hill and Fort Hill 
were placed in fighting order, and a fortification erected near the 
hospital on the west side of the river. Fortunately, no necessity 
to make use of these defensive preparations ever arose, and the 
ruins of some of them stand to-day, a monument only to the pa- 
triotic zeal of the townsmen of this and adjacent towns, who 
dropped their usual avocations, and one and all, farmers, me- 
chanics, merchants, clerks, lawyers, doctors, professors, students, 
and laborers, joined in the heavy work of the spade and pick axe 
for their construction. 

In this movement, the Irishmen, resident of the town, first be- 
came noticeable as a body. On October 9, after referring to the 
services of Brown University students and of the clergy in the 
past week on the fortifications, it is noted in the Gazette, that 
u on Monday next the inhabitants of Glocester will volunteer 
their services. Thursday next is the day the Irishmen of this 
town and vicinity have volunteered to assist in a body in repairing 
the old fort on Fox Point." 

A few months were passed in wary watchfulness, when on the 
evening of Sunday, the twelfth day of February, 1815, the usual 
quiet of the close of the Sabbath day was disturbed by men rush- 
ing wildly through the streets shouting " Peace ! Peace !" Here 
and there the reports of guns in feu de joie were heard, and as 
the astonished townsmen opened their windows and doors to in- 
quire what it meant, the only answer received was, " Peace! 
peace is declared !" No one seemed to know when or how the 



news came, or how far it could be depended upon, but tears of joy 
fell from eyes long unused to them, and sobs of gladness choked 
the utterance of strong men as they joined in the general rejoic- 
ing, though not a little in fear that the report might be disproved 
on the morrow. But on the morrow the news was officially con- 
firmed, and then the citizens gave unchecked rein to their rejoic- 
ings. Flying flags, roaring cannon, glad clangor of bells, con- 
gratulation between man and man, and in the evening a general 
illumination, all testified to the universal happiness. One can 
scarcely realize how much our townsmen were opposed to, and 
suffered from this war till he knows the details of their rejoicing 
over its termination. 

Business revived immediately. Says the Gazette of Feb. 25, 
1815 : " The noise of the axe and the hammer begins again to 
be heard in our workshops and on our wharves, and the busy 
note of preparation presages the return of those halcyon days 
from which we have been too long and unnecessarily estranged. 
Already are a number of our best ships fitting up with every 
possible degree of dispatch, confidently expecting that no inter- 
vening cloud will obscure the bright prospect of free and unin- 
terrupted commerce throughout the globe." 

Thus every prospect seemed bright and fair for the long de- 
pressed town of Providence, but how little is known of the evils 
or benefits Providence — God's providence — nas in store for us. 
After a spring and summer of unexampled activity and prosperity, 
on the twenty-second day of September an ordinary " line storm " 
seemed to have commenced. The wind was northeast and the 
usual amount of rain fell, and the townsmen went to bed antici- 
pating the usual results. In the night the force of the wind in- 
creased. On the morning of the 23d the wind had changed to the 
east and blew with increased force. At about nine o'clock A. m., 
it veered to east-southeast, and at ten, or before, to southeast, and 
blew a hurricane for nearly two hours. 

Before twelve o'clock the wind had changed to the southwest, 
had calmed down, and the sun was shining brightly on the ruin 
and devastation those two short hours had wrought. The water 
had stood twelve feet higher than the spring tide-mark. It had 
extended from well up towards Benefit Street on the east side 
nearly to Aborn Street on the west. With the first burst of the 
hurricane the East India ship "Ganges," belonging to Brown & 
Ives, of over five hundred and twenty tons burthen, and the 
largest in the harbor, had been forced from her moorings and 
hurtled against the Weybosset Bridge. Without a pause she 
smashed through the bridge, swinging her bowsprit into, and 
wrecking the upper story of the Washington Insurance building, 
as an angry elephant with his tusks destroys an enemy without 
stopping in mad career, and sped onwards till she reached the 
firm land at the head of the Cove where she ended her career for- 
ever. Through the gap which she made poured other craft and 
wreck stuff till the shores of Smith's Hill and the Moshassuck 
River were strewed with the wrecks of three ships, nine brigs, 
seven schooners, and fifteen sloops, besides houses, lumber, casks, 
and every imaginable sort of material that the angry flood had 
raised from the shores below and flung to the end of its reach. 
The succeeding vessels passing through the breach in the bridge 
had, by striking against its sides, widened it till no bridge was 
left. Nearly every vessel in the harbor had gone that way, and 
one sloop was carried into the limits of North Providence. All 
the vessels in the harbor, save two, had been driven from their 
moorings. As the waters abated — almost as rapidly as they rose 
— a large sloop was seen reposing in Eddy Street, between Wey- 
bosset and Westminster streets, against a three-story brick house, 
her mast showing proudly above it. 

To the south of the bridge, the wharves, " on which had been 
stored the riches of every clime," exhibited a most sad and repul- 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



7* 



sive aspect. " Scarcely a vestige remained of the stores, many 
of them very spacious, which had crowded the wharves border- 
ing on Weybosset Street but two short hours before. Most of 
those on the east side from the south of the Market House clear 
round to India Point, suffered the same fate." The wharves 
themselves were washed away, wrecked, and in many places 
utterly destroyed. Many of the streets in the lower part of the 
town were u almost barricadoed " by an accumulation of lumber, 
scows, boats, etc., and as soon as the waters receded were 
crowded by anxious sufferers desirous of identifying and saving 



planned and constructed as far south as General Carrington's 
wharf, and substantial brick and stone buildings erected on its 
eastern side ; Fox Hill in large part leveled off and its materials 
used to fill up the Mile End Cove and the land between the shore 
and harbor line, making Fox Point substantially as we see it now. 
Southwest Water Street, now Dyer Street, was constructed be- 
yond the ends of what, in 1815, were the wharves bordering on 
Weybosset Street, and substantial buildings, many of theni now- 
standing, erected on its western side, and docks built to the east- 
ward of it, while, in the summer of 181 7, the Dorrance Street 










i^.22*^r 



Westminster Street 



THE GREAT STORM OF 1815. 
From an old Painting in possession of th« Rhode Island Historical Society. 



Market Square. 



any of their property that had escaped destruction. Many dwell- 
ings were carried away from Eddy's Point, while from other 
homes every article of furniture, clothing, and provision, was lost. 

The Second Baptist Meeting-house succumbed and went to 
pieces under the combined force of the wind and the waves, 
while the tall spire of the First Baptist Church wavered and bent 
to the blast, but it fell not. The streets in the upper parts of the 
town were strewn with the ruins of chimneys, trees, fences, and 
houses. At India Point houses and wharves were destroyed. 
The Washington Bridge was floated from its piers and destroyed, 
while the east end of the Central (Red) Bridge, suffered the 
same fate. Five hundred buildings were destroyed in this storm. 
It was " short, sharp, and decisive." Never before, and it is to 
be hoped, never again will two hours witness an equal destruc- 
tion in Providence. Fortunately the loss of life was small, but 
two men, David Butler and Reuben Winslow, having perished, 
both at India Point. The pecuniary loss was estimated at the 
time at one and a half million dollars, which was about one- 
fourth of the total valuation of the town. This loss fell on the 
most enterprising and active members of the community. 

Instead of being stunned by this blow, the townsmen rallied 
under the shock. The bridges were rebuilt, — Weybosset Bridge 
this time without a draw. The long designed improvement in 
filling in the docks to the southward of the market in great part 
carried out ; a harbor line established ; South Water Street 



Association filled in the large cove that the map of 1803 shows as 
existing between Weybosset Street and Eddy's Point. New 
manufacturing enterprises were started. Snuff, chocolate, and 
hat manufacturing were three important industries of those days 
that seem to have entirely passed away from this city. 

By Oct. 21, 1 81 5, the temporary bridge at Weybosset was pas- 
sable for carriages. Nine vessels had been floated from the head 
of the Cove and carried below the bridge, while as many more, 
including the " Ganges," still lay stranded on Smith's Hill. At- 
tempts were made to float the " Ganges" but they were unsuc- 
cessful, and she was finally sold and broken up where she 
stranded. The permanent Weybosset Bridge was finished in 
July following. It was 1 20 feet long, ninety-five feet wide, the 
north sidewalk being twenty-two feet, and the southern one nine 
feet wide. It was built on sixty-five posts driven into the water. 

The public means of communication between Providence and 
the rest of the world were rapidly improving. Daily, and in busy 
seasons more frequently, stages ran to Boston, to Worcester, and 
to Hartford and the west. In March, 1817, a partly steamboat 
and partly stage line ran between Boston and New York via 
Providence. The stage left Boston early in the morning, reach- 
ing New London late at night. The steamboat left New London 
the next morning, made New Haven that night, took on a new- 
supply of wood, and reached New York next morning. Thus a 
journey to New York from Providence only occupied two days, 



Digitized by 



Google 



74 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



and three-fourths of that time was spent on an " elegant steam- 
boat." 

On Wednesday, the 28th of May, 181 7, the steamboat " Fire- 
fly " arrived in our harbor. This was the first steamboat that ever 
rounded Point Judith, and the first practical steamboat ever seen 
in our waters. She " attracted considerable notice," as the Ga- 
zette naively remarks. On the next Friday she made the round 
trip to Newport and return in eleven hours. The " Firefly " 
ran for a time between Newport and Providence, but the enter- 
prise was not a pecuniary success. Probably the expense of run- 
ning her was too great for the limited traffic and sharp competi- 
tion between Providence and Newport. She showed what could 
be done by steam in moving machinery, and soon afterwards we 
find steam introduced as a motive power in foundries and mills, 
though the expense of wood fuel checked that general develop- 
ment of its use, which came after the introduction of anthracite 
coal. 

On Monday, June 30, 181 7, President Monroe, on his tour 
through the Eastern States, arrived from Bristol on the " Firefly," 
landing at Carrington's wharf, whence he was escorted by the cit- 
izens, amidst firing of cannon and ringing of bells, to Chapotin's 
Hotel (now the Mansion House). The next morning "after 
showing him all the beauties of the town," he was escorted to 
Pawtucket, whence he passed into Massachusetts. It may be in- 
teresting to note that in August, 18 18, the first elephant came to 
town. Before then, when the boys wished to see the elephant, they 
were obliged to content themselves with some counterfeit present- 
ment on a signboard or a picture in a book. 

In 1819, a public fish market was established in a wooden build- 
ing north of the Great Bridge, partly built over the water, and 
facing East, on Water (Canal) Street. 

There being at this period large amounts of money disbursed 
among the laboring classes, it was deemed desirable that some 
means should be found whereby the poorer people could combine 
their individual savings and so use them as to draw an income 
therefrom. With this end in view the Providence Institution for 
Savings was incorporated, with Thomas P. Ives, first president, 
in 1819, and has successfully performed since its incorporation the 
functions for which it was designed. 

By 1820, the growth of the west side of the river had ap- 
proached that of the east, there being 5,118 inhabitants there 
against 6,627 on the east side. Of these people, 1,371 were en- 
gaged in manufacturing, and 322 in commerce, sixty-four in agri- 
culture, and there were thirty-nine unnaturalized foreigners resi- 
dents of the town. 

On the 5th of September, of this year, there were counted 126 
wagons loaded with fruit and vegetables standing on Market 
Square, while only seven years before the presence of forty-nine 
such wagons had excited surprise and remark. In those days the 
marketing of the townsmen was all done at Market Square. 

In 1820, a fire hook and ladder company was established. In 
the same year the Franklin House was built fronting on Market 
Square, inaugurating a new era in the style of business buildings. 
It was followed the next year by the building next north of it, and 
about four years later by the brick buildings, faced with granite, 
on the corner of Market Square and North Main Street. Soon 
after this the Mallet buildings were erected on South Main Street, 
and the post-office moved into the front one by Postmaster Mallet. 

Previous to 1820 the streets had been unlighted at night save 
by the moon and stars, and the townsmen were obliged to blunder 
through the streets on cloudy nights or pick their way by the un- 
certain light of lanterns carried by hand. After a long discussion 
the people were finally, in that year, educated to appreciate the 
importance of lighting the streets by municipal authority, and 
the wise economy of the saving expense caused thereby. 



The shipping of Providence had largely increased in tonnage 
since 1800. It now comprised in foreign trade seventy vessels, 
viz. : 31 ships, 2 barks, 31 brigs, 4 schooners, 2 sloops, total ton- 
nage, 15,491 ; and coasting trade, sixty vessels, viz. : 3 ships, 14 
brigs, 12 schooners, 31 sloops, with a tonnage of 5,204; giving a 
total of 130 vessels, with a tonnage of 20,696 tons. 

On Aug. 22, 182 1, the steamship " Robert Fulton" arrived at 
India Point from New York, being the first steamboat arrival 
direct from New York. 

During this year the subject of sidewalks was agitated, and 
after a discussion somewhat similar to that of the year before on 
the question of lighting the streets, it was decided in the face of 
much opposition that the streets should have sidewalks and gut- 
ters. A committee on sidewalks was appointed and in March, 
1822, they commenced their labors on the west side of South 
Main Street. The old, uneven pavement of round stones extend- 
ing across the street from building to building, was broken up 
and flag stones substituted. Steps of houses that had long been 
trespassers on the highways were removed, and the sidewalk 
brought to an even grade. The opposition to this improvement 
did not cease, however, and as late as August, 1827, the sidewalks 
on North Main Street, between North Baptist Lane (Thomas 
Street) and Thomas Greene's estate, near Meeting Street, were 
not made. In the year 1822 the expediency of numbering the 
stores and houses was discussed and finally the improvement 
was decided upon. 

In June of the same year, owing to a controversy between the 
states of New York and Connecticut, the steamboats commenced 
running direct from New York to Providence. They made the 
trip in twenty-three hours and consumed fourteen cords of wood 
in the passage. 

Communication with Boston had by this time become so de- 
veloped that by starting at five o'clock in the morning one could 
go to Boston, have two hours to do business there, and return to 
Providence by seven o'clock in the evening. The steamship 
"Providence" was plying between Providence and Newport, 
and driving the packets out of the business. She made the trip 
from Newport to Providence, against wind and tide, in three 
hours. 

In April, 1823, the first ordinance was passed requiring snow 
to be removed from sidewalks in twenty-four hours after falling. 

On July 4th of this year, 1823, a town ordinance prohibiting the 
smoking of cigars on the street, went into operation and met with 
universal compliance. The fire wardens, whose duty it was to 
complain, were determined not to suffer one offender to escape. 
This measure was adopted as a prevention against fires, and as 
the department became more efficient the interest in enforcing it 
waned. How many people are there, who, as they walk along 
the streets to-day, smoking a cigar, realize that they owe the 
privilege to the efficacy of the fire department? 

The town had grown to such an extent that a directory was 
felt to be needed, and the first one was issued bearing date 1824. 
The condition of the town as to growth at this time is well shown 
by the Daniel Anthony map of 1823, a reduced facsimile of 
which is here shown. 

By 1824 the valuation of the town had increased to $9,500,000, 
that of the state being $32,640,000, while the population had 
augmented till it was over fifteen thousand nine hundred. These 
figures show the energy with which the people reacted against 
the blow received in the storm of 18 15. 

Ever since the adoption of the constitution of the United States 
efforts had been repeatedly made towards the adoption of a writ- 
ten constitution for this state, and the townsmen of Providence 
had always led the movement. It was not, however, till 1824 
that the citizens of the state could be induced to call, through the 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



7$ 



legislature, a constitutional convention. This convention pre- 
pared a constitution and submitted it to the voters. Providence 
voted largely in favor of it (623 for, and 22 against it), but the 
vote of the state stood 1,668 for, and 3,206 against it, and the 
movement was defeated. 

On the 1 2th of August, 1824, Ebenezer Knight Dexter died, in 
the fifty-second year of his age. His benefactions to his native 
town will cause his name to be remembered so long as Provi- 
dence shall exist. The Dexter Asylum, the Dexter Training 
Ground, and the Dexter Donation Fund in aid of the poor of his 
native town, will keep his name in remembrance far better and 
longer than storied monument of stone or bronze. 

On the 23d of the same month, Lafayette visited Providence 
for the first time since the Revolutionary War, and was joyfully 
greeted by the citizens. 

As early as February, 1796, John Brown had planned a canal 
to Worcester and obtained a charter to enable the Rhode Island 
end of it to be built, but Massachusetts refused a charter for that 
portion in her limits, and the project slept. It was not aban- 
doned, however, and in 1823 the desired charter was obtained 
from Massachusetts, and the corporations were united in interest 
by the legislatures of the two states. The stock subscription of 
the company was opened for $400,000, at Franklin Hall, Wed- 
nesday, April 27, 1825, at ten o'clock, and by one o'clock $1,130,- 
000 were subscribed. The company organized in the following 
month. Edward Carrington, Stephen H. Smith, and Moses B. 
Ives were chosen commissioners, and entered at once upon the 
prosecution of the work. 

The canal when built, proved, in a commercial sense, to be 
a failure,— the most disastrous one that, up to that time, Providence 
capitalists had ever engaged in. Looking back at it from this 
distance it would seem that it was very near being a success, and 
had a different course been pursued, would probably have been 
to-day, one of the most influential corporations in the state. 

They seem to have made three mistakes : First, they did not 
build a canal to Worcester ; it was built nine-tenths of the way, 
and depended on slack-water navigation for the other tenth. The 
fatal results of this were that at low stages of the river the boats 
would ground on the bars and shoals of the slack-water por- 
tion and lie stranded for days and sometimes weeks, waiting for 
a rise in the water to lift them off. This destroyed all certainty 
as to the time of arrival of freight at its destina- 
tion. Second, they miscalculated the cost, always 
a discouraging matter to stockholders when it is 
discovered. Had they called for a million or more 
dollars when the subscription was opened they 
could easily have gotten it ; but when they declined 
to accept more than $400,000 from Providence and 
$100,000 from Worcester, on the ground that it 
was sufficient for all purposes, and then found that 
the canal cost $750,000, the public lost faith in it. 
Third, they did not pursue a placatory policy towards 
the water-power owners along the river, but there 
was continual quarreling between the canal men 
and the manufacturers. Had they made their sub- 
scription larger, bought the whole water-power of 
the river, and made a canal and water-power com- 
pany of it, it would probably have been a success to 
this day. 

As it was, the investment proved a total loss to 
the stockholders, but was of great benefit to the 
town in many ways. First, it gave employment to 
a great number of laborers and citizens of Provi- 
dence, (500 laborers, besides artisans, being em- 
ployed on it at one time in this town alone), and 



the large amounts of money distributed among and spent by them 
affected the general business of the town, causing great activity. 
Second, the construction of its lower end led to the completion 
of the long proposed North Water Street, from Steeple to Smith 
streets, and the lining of its west side with wharves for canal boat 
traffic with the building of storehouses on its east side. The 
street was then named Canal Street. Third, the canal with its 
defects, was an improvement on teaming over the roads, and but 
for the speedy introduction of railroads, and the increase of 
manufacturing, requiring the use of all the water-power on the 
Blackstone River, might have been a partial success. For some 
years a considerable business was done over its waters. A fleet 
of twelve freight boats and one packet, all belonging to the 
Providence and Worcester Canal Boat Company, and eleven pri- 
vate boats ran on its line, each freight boat carrying from twenty- 
five to thirty tons. These made a great deal of local business. 

The canal was opened for business on the first day of July, 
1828, when the packet boat u Lady Carrington" passed over the 
course to Worcester in one day returning on the next. The 
" Lady Carrington " was considered a triumph of naval (canal) ar- 
chitecture. She was seventy feet long, nine and one-half feet wide, 
and when loaded with passengers her draft did not exceed eight 
or nine inches, at least so said the veracious reporter. She was 
u covered on top, having below a cabin nearly the whole extent 
of the boat, conveniently and neatly arranged." Drawn by two 
horses she u might be conveyed with ease four or five miles per 
hour." The summit level of the canal at Worcester was 450 feet 
above the tide level at Providence. This was overcome by forty- 
nine locks, forty-eight of which were of hewn stone, costing 
$4,000 each. 

In May, 1825, the second great fire in Providence occurred. It 
broke out about eleven o'clock at night at the corner of Union and 
Westminster streets, and extended up and down the street. It 
was feared that it might reach to the bridge, but fortunately its 
ravages were stopped. 

As showing the ingenuity of Providence mechanics, we note 
that the Babcock Boiler Engine, a Providence invention, by a Mr. 
John Babcock, enabled the steamer " Babcock" to run from New- 
port to New York in August, 1826, with the consumption of only 
one and three-quarters cords of wood, a marked contrast with the 
fourteen cords consumed by the u Fulton" on her first trip from 




/ • \ . - : - ' >T^.^r ^=-^ir 



THE OLD PROVIDENCE BANK, 
As it appeared nearly 100 years ago, still standing, with some change in appearance, on South Main Street. 



Digitized by 



Google 



76 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



New York to Providence. Mr. Babcock subsequently established 
a machine shop and engine building works, which establishment 
has developed into the Providence Steam Engine Company, now 
carrying on business on the spot where Babcock first established it. 

In 1826 a new market was incorporated, and a brick building 
for it was erected at the junction of North Main and Mill streets. 
In the next year the west side, not to be outdone, obtained a char- 
ter and built a brick building for a market at the present junction 
of Broad and High streets. There were no private markets in 
the town. 

The first recorded movement to erect a monument to Roger 
Williams resulted in an attempt to pass an ordinance providing 
for the erection, on some suitable spot, of a massy and durable 
monument to contain this inscription : 

To Roger Williams, 

Founder of the. Town of Providence^ 1636. 
By the Citizens of Providence ■, 1827. 

This monument will crumble into dust; 
His memory remains the same. 

The passage of the ordinance was objected to in the April town- 
meeting of 1827. It was referred to the next meeting, and that 
was the end of this movement. 

In the same April the first public meeting of the citizens friendly 
to temperance, was held in the First Baptist Church. This in- 
dicates a great change in the feelings of the people of the town 
since 1782, when De Chastellux said of it that "its chief business 
was distilling and the slave-trade," and was the commencement 
of a movement that has ever since gone onward, till, in 1886, we 
have seen its consummation in the adoption of an amendment to 
the constitution to the effect that " the manufacture and sale of in- 
toxicating liquors for use as a beverage shall be prohibited." 

The improvement in business buildings since the great gale, 
and more especially since the year 1820, has been noted, but in 
1827, it seemed to have reached its climax in the erection of the 
beautiful, and even now unique, Arcade, fronting on Westmin- 
ster and Weybosset streets, seventy-four feet on each. It is 216 
feet in length, built of granite, and of the roof, thirty -two feet in 
width and 188 feet in length, is glazed, constituting a lighted and 
sheltered court running through the centre, on which open the 
three tiers or stories of stores, with galleries in front of the two 
upper ones running around the entire court. It was built on 
ground before then occupied by "a nest of most combustible 
sheds," by the Arcade Corporation and Cyrus Butler, each own- 
ing one-half. It cost about one hundred and forty-five thousand 
dollars; was finished in 1828, and is a monument to the energy, 
good taste, skill, and courage of its constructors, of which their 
descendants and our city may well be proud. 

The bridge across the river next north of the Weybosset Bridge 
and a bridge along the west side of the river between the two 
constituting the present Washington Row, were built in 1827-8, 
by the Washington Insurance Company at their own expense, 
they being authorized so to do by the town. At the same time 
Weybosset Bridge was rebuilt and widened to about one hundred 
and four feet, and the fish market removed to the north of the 
new Washington Insurance Company Bridge. A road was then 
projected round the south shore of the then Cove, designed to 
protect that body of water from any further encroachments by 
filling from the south end. A second fire hook and ladder com- 
pany was established about this time, (May, 1827,) to be located 
on the west side. 

The stage lines were developed to such an extent that one 
might go to Boston at any hour of the day for $1.50. The days 
of stage coaching, however, were soon to pass away. A railroad 
to Boston was the subject of local discussion. It was not expected 



to use steam-power locomotives thereon, but it was estimated 
that a railroad to Boston could be built for $350,000, and by its 
use a single horse could drag eight tons of freight at the rate of 
three miles per hour for seven hours, or could carry twenty-five 
passengers nine miles per hour, and a charter was, in 1828, ob- 
tained for such a road. This charter was afterwards repealed and 
a new one granted in 1831. 

The time consumed in a steamboat passage from Providence to 
New York had been reduced to fifteen and one-half hours. 

The townsmen had discovered that anthracite coal was cheaper 
than wood, and it was gradually coming into use, "new pattern 
stoves " being made and sold for that purpose ; and the working 
of coal mines in Prospect Hill, east of Benefit Street, was seri- 
ously proposed, coal having been discovered in veins f\VQ feet 
thick at various points along that line. Wood, however, was 
still the principal fuel, and the only one used for generating steam. 
In November, 1827, we read that "fuel is scarce and high ; wood 
nearly eight dollars as bought from the wagon. Charcoal is high 
and poorer in quality than usual ; there is no Schuylkill coal in 
the market, and not more than enough Lehigh to supply the mar- 
ket for one week, and the condition of the fuel market in the win- 
ter of 1828-9 was aDOUt the same." 

In these days there were two political projects especially dear 
to the hearts of Providence townsmen. One was a written con- 
stitution for the state, with an enlarged right of suffrage, and for 
this they had been struggling in vain against the rest of the state 
for forty years. The other was a city charter for the growing 
municipality. The feeling in favor of the latter had been strength- 
ening for years. In 1829, a proposition to adopt a city government 
was adopted by the freemen by a vote of 312 against 222. The 
population of the town was nearly seventeen thousand, and the 
smallness of the vote vividly impresses one with the effect of the 
restricted suffrage of those days. The General Assembly of the 
state at its next January session granted a city charter on condi- 
tion that it was approved by a three-fifths vote of the freemen of 
the town. Feb. 15, 1830, a vote was had, resulting in 383 votes 
for, and 345 votes against it. Consequently it was lost, and the 
municipality kept on under its town government. The political 
attention of the citizens being mainly divided between the then 
growing anti-Masonic excitement, the temperance question, and 
attempts of the town authorities to enforce order among the un- 
ruly class of the population brought here by the exigencies of the 
canal business, which had settled at its mouth, in Snowtown, on 
the west side, and on the east to and up along the south side of 
Olney Street (the court end of the town but fifty years before) . 

A contemporary writer says of this district : " The town coun- 
cil use every exertion to quell the riots which frequently happen 
in that vicinity. It is but a few weeks since that the reputable 
citizens were disturbed during the night by a riotous assault in 
three or four houses in Olney's Lane, and almost every night they 
are disturbed by the shouts and noise of rioters in the neighbor- 
hood." 

On the night of Sept. 21, 1831, several sailors, on mischief in- 
tent, visited Olney Street. After they had made much disturb- 
ance by uncouth noises and throwing of stones, one of the fright- 
ened inhabitants of that locality discharged a gun, which caused 
the retreat of the disorderly crowd to the west (lower) end of the 
street, or lane, as it was then called. Soon after, five sailors, who 
had not been concerned in the disturbance, walked up the. lane. 
A colored man, on the steps of his house, thinking them among 
the disturbers, presented a gun at them and ordered them to keep 
their distance. After threatening to take the gun from him, the 
sailors pursued their walk a little further and stopped. The col- 
ored man ordered them to u clear out" or he would fire. They 
dared him to do so, and he fired, and one of them fell dead. The 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



77 



rioters from the foot of the lane then returned, tore down two 
houses, (standing about where Pratt Street now enters Olney 
Street), and broke the windows of the neighboring ones. 

All through the next day there was great excitement in that 
neighborhood. In the evening the sheriff' of the county and other 
peace officers were there present, and as the mob increased in 
numbers and violence, they were ordered to disperse and some of 
them taken into custody. Others were afterwards arrested but 
were rescued by the mob. The sheriff then called for military 
aid, and at midnight the First Light Infantry Company marched 
to his assistance. The mob pelted the soldiers with stones, and 
the latter finding that they could not quell the mob without firing 
upon them, withdrew. It was the old mistake of trying to show 
mercy to a mob of rioters. Encouraged by the retreat of the 
soldiers, the mob destroyed six other houses on Olney Street and 
then went over to Smith Street, where they destroyed one more 
before four o'clock in the morning, when they temporarily dis- 
persed. 

On the next day, the 23d, an attack on the jail being expected, 
the sheriff called for military aid, and the governor, Lemuel H. 
Arnold, ordered the Light Dragoons, the Artillery, the Cadets, 
the volunteers, and the Light Infantry companies to be in arms at 
six o'clock. As the mob appeared in small numbers that evening 
and did but little mischief, the military were dismissed till the next 
evening. 

On the evening of the 24th, the mob appeared in force, and com- 
menced destroying houses in " Snowtown " (under the then blufT 
of Smith's Hill, to the south of Smith Street, the present Gaspee 
Street) . On the call of the sheriff, by the governor's order, the 
military marched up Smith Street, pelted on the way with stones 
by the mob, and took post on the hill over Snowtown. Here the 
governor and sheriff both remonstrated with the mob and endeav- 
ored to induce them to separate. As might have been expected, 
this proceeding proved ineffectual, and the soldiers were ordered 
to retreat. Down the hill they marched to the east end of Smith 
Street Bridge (the one over the canal) . This action left the mob 
as they thought, masters of the situation. The air around the 
retreating soldiers was thick with flying missiles. Several of the 
soldiers were seriously injured. When east of the bridge they 
were halted, turned on the mob, the riot act read, and the soldiers 
ordered to fire. Smarting from their wounds they did fire, and 
with ball cartridge, right into the midst of the rioters, and after 
four disgraceful days of mob rule, that riot was quelled in about 
three minutes. Four men — rioters all — were known to be 
killed. Many were wounded, how many is not known, as the 
sufferers wisely kept the facts from the public knowledge. Dur- 
ing those four days of mob rule, six houses on Olney Street and 
nine in Snowtown were destroyed. 

On the morning of the next day, Sunday, the 25th of Septem- 
ber, a town-meeting was held. The concourse was too great for 
the town-house to contain it, and an adjournment was had to the 
Court House Parade. Resolutions lamenting the occasion and 
approving the course of the civil magistrates were passed. 

Believing that this event grew out of the inefficiency of a town 
government, the freemen, in town-meeting assembled, on the fifth 
day of October, unanimously resolved it to be expedient to adopt 
a city government. They appointed a committee consisting of 
John Whipple, Caleb Williams, William T. Grinnell, Peter Pratt, 
George f urtis, and Henry P. Franklin, to draw a proposed char- 
ter. This committee reported on the 12th of the month. The 
meeting then adjourned to the 22d, to take the opinions of the 
freemen on that day, by ballot, resolving that if three-fifths of 
them voted in its favor the representatives in the legislature of the 
town should be instructed to urge the granting of the charter by 
that body. 




THE ARCADE. 



On the 2 2d, 
471 freemen 
voted for, and 1 75 
against, the pro- 
posed charter, 
and the represen- 
tatives of the 
town presented 
the matter before 
the next General 
Assembly. At 
the same session 
some residents of 
the west part of 
the town pre- 
sented to the Gen- 
eral Assembly a 
petition praying 
that the city, if 
incorporated, 
should not extend 
west of Broad 
Street, (Broad 

Street then ran from Weybosset Street to the present junction of 
High and Westminster streets), and that the rest of Providence 
might be set off and formed into another town. In view of this 
movement, the General Assembly granted a charter for the incor- 
poration of the city of Providence, to go into effect on the first 
Monday in June, 1832, on condition that three-fifths of the free- 
men voting at a town-meeting to be holden on the twenty-second 
day of November then next, should approve of it. At that town 
meeting, 647 freemen voted : 459 voting for the charter, and 188 
against it. This action determined the fate of the town of Provi- 
dence. The few months of existence remaining to it were spent 
in preparation for its transmutation into a city. 

On the fourth Monday in April, 1832, Samuel W. Bridgham 
was elected mayor of the future city. Dexter Thurber, Charles 
Holden, John H. Ormsbee, William T. Grinnell, Henry R. 
Greene, and Asa Messer, were chosen as aldermen, one for each 
of the six wards that composed it ; and as common councilmen 
were elected the following citizens : for the first ward, Thomas 
R. Holden, Jesse Metcalf, William R. Staples, Peter Daniels ; 
for the second ward, Isaac Brown, Samuel Pearson, Joseph 
Cady, Cyrus Fisher ; for the third ward, Joseph S. Cooke, John 
Church, William C. Barker, Asa Pike; for the fourth ward, 
George Baker, president, James M. Warner, Benjamin D. 
Weeden, Thomas B. Fenner ; for the fifth ward, Samuel Jack- 
son, 2d, Hezekiah Anthony, Pardon Clark, William Tallman ; 
and for the sixth ward, Caleb Williams, William Olney, Thomas 
Seekell, and Sterry Baker. With these officers the new city 
organized on the first Monday in June, 1832. 

And here we close the history of the town of Providence. It 
has grown under our observation in population from the six 
homeless refugees that landed on its wilderness shores in 1636, to 
a busy commercial and manufacturing town of over seventeen 
thousand inhabitants; and in wealth, from £30 — the first fixed 
valuation of its lands — to a real and personal valuation of over 
thirteen millions of dollars. 

We have seen it pass 

" Through days of sorrow and of mirth, 

Through days of death and days of birth, 
Through every swift vicissitude 
Of changful time/' until it stood, 

casting off the old chrysalis of town government and entering 
upon its career as a city. 



Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter IX. 



THE GROWTH OF THE CITY OF PROVIDENCE IN TIMES OF PEACE, 1832-1860. 

PROVIDENCE IN 1S32 — ANTI-MASONIC EXCITEMENT NO LEGAL GOVERNMENT ATTEMPT AT A NEW CONSTITUTION BOSTON 

& PROVIDENCE RAILROAD NEW YORK, PROVIDENCE & BOSTON RAILROAD — USE OF ANTHRACITE COAL TO DEVELOP 

STEAM TRISTAM BURGES — LITERARY CAREER OF PROVIDENCE FRANKLIN SOCIETY RHODE ISLAND HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

FRANKLIN LYCEUM — LIBRARIES — ATHENAEUM — HIGH SCHOOL EVENING SCHOOLS — THEATRES COUNTY JAIL WEY- 

BOSSET BRIDGE POPULATION IN 184I — CONSTITUTIONAL EFFORTS — -'PEOPLE'S" PARTY — PEOPLE'S CONSTITUTION 

LANDHOLDERS* CONSTITUTION — NOMINAL ELECTION OF THOMAS W. DORR — u DORR WAR " ATTACK ON THE ARSENAL 

DORR IN CONNECTICUT ACOTE's HILL AFFAIR END OF u DORR WAR" — CASUALTIES OF THE " WAR " NEW CONSTITUTION 

ADOPTED FATE OF THOMAS W. DORR — HIS TRIAL AND ITS RESULT PROVIDENCE & WORCESTER RAILROAD — BUILDING OF 

EXCHANGE PLACE, THE CENTRAL PASSENGER DEPOT, AND THE COVE — PROVIDENCE, HARTFORD & FISHKILL RAILROAD 

TELEGRAPHS — GROWTH OF PROVIDENCE GAS WORKS — BUTLER HOSPITAL — SWAN POINT BUSINESS BUILDINGS AND PRI- 
VATE HOUSES — CHANGE IN COMMERCIAL RELATIONS — KNOW-NOTHING EXCITEMENT — PROVIDENCE, WARREN & BRISTOL 

RAILROAD PANIC OF 1856-7 — BACK COVE LANDS FIRE DEPARTMENT — ATTEMPTS TO INTRODUCE MUNICIPAL WATER 

WORKS INTRODUCTION OF STEAM FIRE ENGINES — GENERAL PROSPERITY. 




THE RHODE ISLAND HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S CABINET, 
Waterman Street, Providence. 

Providence commenced its life as a city with an area of some 
five and one-half square miles, traversed by about forty miles of 
streets and roads ; a population of over seventeen thousand 
inhabitants, about one-half of whom lived on the west side of the 
river; a valuation in real estate of $6,863,300, and in personal 
of $5,282,900, in all, $12,121,200, and a city debt of $108,814.97, 
— with educational institutions equal if not superior to those of 
any city in the country. To carry on the city government re- 
quired $40,000 per year, and the rate of tax was $3.30 per $1 ,000. 



Of her business population the larger proportion was engaged 
in manufacturing ; the remainder almost entirely in wholesale or 
retail commerce. She was growing in every respect with a vig- 
orous development, and yet there were elements of danger about 
and in her, such that it required the greatest firmness, the most 
sagacious prudence, and the broadest patriotism on the part of 
her leaders and rulers to save her fair prospects from wreck and 
ruin. Fortunately, the men who had brought her to her then po- 
sition were able to keep her in a wise course, and as they passed 
away to the great hereafter their successors were men brought 
up in the school which they had established, who, aided by wise- 
and able minds drawn hither by the attractions they had fixed 
here, have kept the growth of the city ever onward and upward 
to the present day. 

One of the greatest of these weaknesses was the inability to 
keep the peace against domestic violence. From the days of its 
first settlement the inhabitants of these plantations had been so 
devoted to the principles of personal liberty that they were loth 
to submit to even a police surveillance and control. To bring 
them to the submission to a strong government without exciting 
fears that the latter would prove too " anti-republican " in its na- 
ture, required tact, firmness, and time.* 

Looking back over the history of the city, we can say that this 
has been thoroughly effected, and though slowly, as rapidly as 
the necessities demanded. The calling out of the soldiery to 
resist defiance of municipal authority has never been necessary 
since the organization of the city. A second great evil from 
which our citizens suffered was the restricted suffrage then pre- 
vailing throughout the state, from which Providence suffered 
more, perhaps, than any other portion. How this was met and 
in part remedied will be described later in this chapter. The 
other dangers as they were met and averted will be desc/ibed. 

No history of these times would be complete if without refer- 
ence to the peculiar mental disease, — it can hardly be otherwise 
denominated, — known as the " anti-Masonic excitement." A 
body of the Masonic fraternity (St. John's Lodge) had existed 

*It was not till '1851, when the population of the city had increased to over forty-two 
thousand inhabitants that a day police force was established. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



79 



in Providence since the year 1757, and many of the best citizens 
had been prominent members thereof. 

In 1827 a man named Henry Morgan mysteriously disappeared 
from the western part of the State of New York. It was charged 
that the Masons murdered him to prevent his revealing the secrets 
of the order. The matter was taken up as a political issue, and 
not only the Masons oi the lodge to which Morgan was alleged to 



1838. The fever had its run and passed away, and to-day no 
man knows the cause of its inception or the reason of its termi- 
nation. To the student of human nature it presents a curious 
psychological phenomenon. To the practical man it teaches the 
lesson that he should look carefully into living political issues, as 
some of them may seem as absurd to the next generation as this 
one does to us. 




THE TOWN OF PROVIDENCE IN 1819. FROM MANCHESTER'S HILL. 
Drawn and Engraved from the Original Painting in the possession of Dr. Charles T. Metcalf. 



belong, but all Masons of all lodges in the United States were 
alleged to be guilty of complicity in the matter. In the course 
of two or three years the charge grew to statements that the Ma- 
sons as a class were guilty of all the crimes in Ihe Decalogue. Ar- 
ticles demonstrating that a Free Mason could not be a Christian, 
nor a patriot, nor an honest man, floated throughout the land in 
the public prints. One article was entitled " Masonry, the Pi- 
rate's Friend," and many others bore similar appellations. In 
June, 1832, a writer in a Providence paper proclaimed the pre- 
tentions of Masonry to be u a lie, so colossal that it takes a month's 
reading by an expert in detecting falsity to appreciate its enor- 
mity " ; " its claims to religion and morality more blasphemous 
then we could conceive." In the next month the same paper 
shrieks "Where is Morgan? Ye blood-stained institution, where 
is Morgan?" And this was moderation compared with the state- 
ments made on the stump by orators of the anti-Masonic party. 
In 1832, a speaker addressing an assembly on Market Square as- 
sured his audience that 500 Masons, citizens of Providence, had 
suffered death in the lodge room of the St. John* Lodge, whose 
windows looked out upon them. 

The Free Masons of to-day, secure in the esteem of the com- 
munity, can afford to smile at the falsities then so recklessly thrown 
at them, but at the time it was no smiling matter. Many lodges 
in the United States surrendered their charters through fear, and 
though none in Providence did so, yet a member of the St. John's 
Lodge, for fear lest it might be induced so to do, removed the char- 
ter from its proper place and hid it in his own house for seven 
years, till the fever passed away. The records of the lodges show 
that not a single member was admittted to the Mount Vernon 
Lodge, the St. John's Lodge, nor the St. John's Encampment 
of the Temple, from the close of the year 1828 to that of the year 



Growing out of this excitement and the peculiar division of 
parties resulting therefrom, came the fact that in 1832 no gov- 
ernor, lieutenant-governor, nor senators were elected in the state. 
Five several attempts were made, the last on November 21, to 
complete an election, but there were three parties in the field, 
each equally obstinate. Neither would yield a vote to the public 
interest. Neither had a majority, and under the charter a major- 
ity was necessary to elect. Each insisted that the public interest 
required the other two to yield to it. Such a condition of affairs 
was unprovided for in the charter, hence there was no legally 
organized legislature and no legal governor. 

Fortunately the sense of the people taught them to submit 
that the senators, lieutenant-governor, and governor elected in 
183 1 hold over till 1833 ; but the whole episode showed strongly 
the necessity of a constitution suitable to the times. This neces- 
sity was so obvious that in 1834 authority was granted by the 
legislature to the electors to hold a constitutional convention at 
Providence in September of that year. The convention met, 
adjourned till November, met again, and adjourned till February, 
1835 ; then met and adjourned till June 29, 1835. Then Thomas 
W. Dorr, of Providence, and Dr. Metcalf Marsh, of Smithfield, 
"who were the only delegates present, u performed the obsequies 
of the convention." The extension of the suffrage was the rock 
on which this convention struck and wrecked itself, and well 
nigh the state. The thunder of the voice demanding it was mut- 
tering in the heavens, but the delegates would submit to all the 
inconveniences of the charter rather than offer to the people a 
constitution granting it, while at the same time they dared not 
proffer a constitution without it, and they relieved themselves 
from this dilemma by " dodging," viz., absenting themselves. 

It was in this same month of June that the first railroad train 



Digitized by 



Google 



8o 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



drawn by a locomotive engine ran to and from Providence. It 
was over the Boston and Providence Railroad. This road had 
been chartered, as stated in the last chapter, in 1831. In 1834 
cars drawn by a locomotive ran from Boston to Canton, but till 
the completion of the viaduct at Canton, in June, 1835, all cars 
running from Providence, to that point were drawn by horses. 
The terminus of the road at Providence was at India Point, near 
where the trains crossed the Seekonk River by a draw-bridge.* 

The Boston and Providence Railroad had no sooner been proved 
to be practicable than, in 1832, the New York, Providence and 
Boston Railroad was incorporated. This company built the line 
from Stonington to Providence, striking the bay shore north of 
Sassafras Cove, and running northward along the shore to about 
the present Hill's wharf. This line was opened in 1837. A 
steam ferry-boat was run between the two railroad termini. The 
residence of James B. Mason on the hill above the Boston depot 
was purchased and transformed into a hotel, the Tockwotton 
House, and again India Point, which had been waning for the 
past ten years, became the busiest part of the city. 

While this great improvement in transportation was develop- 
ing, one equally important to the community in manufacturing 
facilities was worked out. It was shown in 1835 tnat by tne use 
of a fan blower, anthracite coal might be utilized in developing 
steam. We have since dispensed with the blower. The impor- 
tance of this development can scarcely be exaggerated. Coeval 
with this discovery was the commencement of the great coal 
traffic, which from insignificant figures in 1837, nas gi"°wn to 
amount in 1885 to $70,147 tons brought in vessels alone to our 
port. 

The literary career of Providence had been onward and up- 
ward. The Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufac- 
turers had, before the commencement of the present century, 
initiated a series of lectures by its members for the improvement 
of the society and the public. This practice, though discontinued 
at times, was revived in 1831. The Providence Franklin Society 
had been organized, a charter having been granted them in 1823, 
and sought to awaken interest among its members by scientific 
discussions, and among the public by popular scientific lectures. 

One of the most noted individuals of this time, as lawyer, 
statesman, orator, and master of belles lettres, was Tristam Bur- 
ges. He was born in Rochester, Mass., Feb. 26, 1770, came 
early to Providence, and graduated from Brown University in the 
class of 1796. He studied law under Judge Barnes, and was 
admitted to the Providence bar in 1799, was elected a member 
of the General Assembly in 18 15, and was professor of oratory 
and belles lettres in Brown University from 18 15 to 1828. He 
was elected a Representative of the State of Rhode Island in the 
Congress of the United States, and served in Congress till 1835. 
He was one of the most noted orators in Congress, and is remem- 
bered as the only one who ever silenced the sarcastic John Ran- 
dolph, of Roanoke (Va.), by paying him back in his own coin. 
Though a master of sarcastic oratory, it was not in that that he 
excelled. He was a leader in every class of elegant attainments, 
and his influence in the development of literary excellence in 
Providence may yet be felt. It has been well said that of none of 
its citizens of that day has Rhode Island better reason to be 
proud than of Tristam Burges. 

In June, 1822, the Rhode Island Historical Society had been 
organized, and at this period was industriously accumulating that 
invaluable collection of historic matter that now fills its cabinet, 
erected in 1844, on Waterman Street. We cannot refrain from 
saying that but for that collection and the aid and facilities afforded 
by that society, this work could never have been written. 

•This was probably the first steam railroad in active operation in New England. The 
Boston and Lowell road was opened about a month sooner, but as stated in the text, this 
road was running trains to Canton a year before it was opened its full length. 



The Franklin Lyceum was organized in 1831 , though not incor- 
porated till 1843, and sought to increase the literary development 
of its members and the public generally. Sixty years before 
there had been but one library accessible to the Providence public. 
Now, the Providence Library, the Providence Athenaeum, the 
Mechanics' and Manufacturers' Association, the Franklin Society, 
and the Franklin Lyceum were all offering books on terms easily 
available by the public, while the Brown University Library was 
rapidly assuming larger proportions. In 1836 the Providence 
Library and the Providence Athenaeum were united under the 
name of the " Athenaeum," and in 1837 tne elegant building now 
occupied by that institution was erected. 

In early days the scant productions of Providence authors had 
been mainly sermons and other productions of the ministers, 
who then constituted the literary class, together with the effusions 
of statesmen and politicians, some of which were very able and 
deserving. But at this time poets and novelists, historians and 
essayists, and writers on science and art, were bringing Provi- 
dence into an enviable fame by the excellence of their work. 
Recognizing the fact that this fame could only be maintained by 
sustaining and increasing the general high state of education in 
the community, as well as the importance of such a course in 
respect to every other desirable development of the city, the 
advanced citizens made every effort to improve the free school sys- 
tem. For years a high school was felt by them to be needed to 
complete it ; much opposition was raised, however, by those who 
did not appreciate its advantages, and by many who believed, 
or professed to believe, that none but the children of the wealthy 
would ever seek its advantages, and that it was not just to tax the 
poor to educate the children of the rich. In spite of this op- 
position, in 1838 provision was made by ordinance for the estab- 
lishment of a high school, and a building was erected at the 
junction of Waterman, Angell, and Benefit streets, (now State 
Normal School). The opposition to a high school did not cease, 
however, and even after the building was nearly completed, an at- 
tempt was made to devote it to a city hall instead of school pur- 
poses. The friends of a higher free school education stood firmly 
by the cause, and on the 20th of March, 1844, the high school was 
opened with eighty male and eighty-four female pupils. The 
prophesies of its opponents have never been verified. The High 
School of Providence has always been a benefit, pride, and honor 
to the city. Evening schools for those unable to attend the day 
schools, were first established in Providence in 1842, under the 
auspices of the ministry at large, a charity sustained mainly by 
the Unitarian Congregational churches of the city, and superin- 
tended by the Rev. E. M. Stone. After they had, through a 
course of years, demonstrated their usefulness, such schools were, 
in 1849, adopted by the city as a part of its school system. 

In 1837, the site of the theatre on Westminster Street, after the 
destruction of the building by fire, having been sold to the Grace 
Church corporation, a large and commodious stone building was 
erected on the east side of Dorrance Street for theatrical pur- 
poses. The building is still standing, but was not long devoted 
to the uses for which it was originally designed. 

The County Jail, on North Main Street, opposite the Court 
(State) House, had long been a disgrace to the rapidly improving 
city, and in 1838, a new State and County Jail was erected on 
Great Point, at the north side of the Cove. 

In i839-'40, Weybosset Bridge was rebuilt for the last time. 
It had been repeatedly shortened and widened till its width much 
exceeded its length, a marked contrast to the first bridge of 
twelve or fourteen feet in width, erected there in 1711. It has 
since been further widened, and practically extended south to 
Crawford Street Bridge, forming a beautiful plaza in the heart of 
the city. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



81 



By 1840 the population had increased to 23,172, and its val- 
uation to $17,195,700. 

In the latter part of the year 1840, the question of a constitution 
was again pressed forward. In many points the charter was 
deemed defective. The judiciary system needed reforming. Pro- 
vision was needed for government in cases where the people failed, 
as in 1832, and again in 1839, to elect officers. The system of 
representation in the General Assembly was claimed to be unfair, 
and needed reformation, but the great evil to be corrected was 
the restricted franchise. With a population of free white male 
citizens estimated at twenty- three thousand, the voting power 
rested entirely with the freeholders, who formed a body of less 
than ninety-five hundred. Many of the best and ablest men of 
the state were debarred from voting by the existing laws. The 



On July 24, the People's state committee, Samuel H. Wales, 
chairman, issued a call to every American male citizen of over 
twenty-one years of age, who had resided in this state one year 
preceding such date, to unite on Aug. 28, 1841, in the election of 
delegates to a constitutional convention, to be held at the State 
House, in Providence, on the first Monday in October next. Del- 
egates were elected August 28, and the convention met at the 
State House, and after various intermediate adjournments, on the 
eighteenth day of November it presented to the people a form of 
constitution, afterwards known as the " People's Constitution," 
to be voted on by all the people that would by it, if in force, be 
entitled to vote on the twenty-seventh day- of December the next, 
and the five following days. Every person voting on the question 
was required to, and did vote, by a written or printed ballot, with 




INDIA POINT. ABOUT 1840. 
Showing Tockwotton Hill and House, and the Old Boston & Providence Railroad Depot. From an old Painting in the possession of the Rhode Island Historical Society. 



doctrine was growing into favor that all power of the govern- 
ment rested solely in the consent of the governed, and the action 
of the governing party, especially in the convention of 1834-5, 
seemed to set at naught the hope of an enlargement of the fran- 
chise by that party. In 1840 a suffrage association was formed in 
Providence, and this was followed by the organization of similar 
associations throughout the state. 

In January, 1841, the General Assembly called the freemen of 
the state " entitled to vote for general officers," to elect delegates 
to attend a convention in Providence, on the first Monday in No- 
vember, 1841, to frame a new constitution, " in whole, or in part." 

On the 1 7th of April, of that year, a mass meeting of the friends 
of suffrage was held in Providence, and again in Newport on the 
fifth day of the ensuing May. This last meeting appointed a 
state committee to superintend the affairs of the suffrage cause, 
and adjourned to meet on the 5th of July, following. Pending this 
adjournment, an attempt was made in the May session of the leg- 
islature to enlarge the number of citizens voting for delegates to 
the constitutional convention, by adding all tax-paying white 
male citizens of the full age of twenty-one, but the bill to that 
effect was voted down by a majority of fifty-two to ten. This ac- 
tion was considered as showing the intent of the landholders (the 
anti-suffrage enlargement party) to continue the suffrage restric- 
tions, and the state committee of the Suffrage, or People's party, 
on the nth of June, issued an address, explaining the objects and 
aims of the party, and recommending the calling of a convention 
to frame a constitution. 

On the 5th of the following July, the mass- meeting of that 
party held in Providence, approved and sanctioned the call of the 
committee for a convention, and pledged themselves to each other 
and to the public, to sustain and carry into effect the constitution 
so formed if it should be adopted by the people. 



his name written across the face, and a certificate that he was an 
American citizen, of the age of twenty-one years, that he had a 
permanent home in this state, and whether or not he was qualified 
to vote under the then existing laws of this state. If any per- 
son voted otherwise than in the required form, such votes were not 
counted. It will be seen that the greatest care was taken that 
there should be no fraudulent voting, and, as the votes were pre- 
served and tabulated, that the number of votes and how given 
can be now told, even to the extent of telling how each man 
voted.* 

On the first Monday in November the Landholders' Conven- 
tion had met, and it was formulating a constitution when the vote 
was taken on that of the People's. The People's Convention met 
by adjournment in January after the election, and having counted 
the votes declared the result, and that the constitution was duly 
adopted. The results of the voting was 13,944 votes for the 
constitution and 52 against it. To comprehend the situation an 
analysis of the voting power in the state as well as of this vote is 
necessary. The total population of the state was about one hun- 
dred and nine thousand. The total number of votes actually 
cast in 1840 was 8,622. By the most careful estimates attain- 
able the number of persons capable of voting under the law at this 
time did not exceed nine thousand five hundred and ninety. 

* The author has almost lost patience at times, in the course of his investigations, at the 
persistency with which some honest men, desiring to cast odium on this movement, have 
declared that the whole election was a fraud and a sham ; some going so far as to say that 
they, personally, though under age at the time, voted five or six times for the People's Con. 
stitution. The recollections of such persons must have played wild havoc with the facts. 

The election was declared to be illegal, and in that sense it might perhaps be said to 
be a fraud, but in no sense was it a sham. The author has studied the record of votes cast 
and it agrees with the returns given in the text ; further, in several cases where such state- 
ments as referred to have been made, a consultation of the record shows no vote of the 
party making the statement. Either his recollection was at fault, or his votes, if cast, were 
not counted. It is a fact that some votes were thrown out for informality. 



Digitized by 



Google 



82 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



The whole number of free white male citizens of the state over 
twenty-one years of age, excluding aliens, insane, and those 
under similar disabilities, was about twenty-two thousand six 
hundred and seventy-four. The 13,944 votes cast f° r tne People's 
Constitution were by a majority of such free white male citizens. 
Of these votes, 4,925 were cast by persons who certified them- 
selves to be entitled under the laws to vote, constituting a clear 
majority of the voters of the state. 

If the right to change the form of government rested in the 
majority of the free white male citizens alone, then the People's 
Constitution was unquestionably adopted. 

Whether it did so rest was the question to be determined. The 
People's party claimed that it did. Their convention, at the Jan- 
uary meeting referred to, sent to the governor, Samuel W. King, 
a communication stating their above recited actions. He referred 
it to the house of representatives of the legislature then in ses- 
sion, and they indefinitely postponed its consideration. After this 
action, the legislature at that session directed that the constitution 
then in process of formulation by the Landholders' Convention 
should be voted on as to its adoption, not only by the legal voters 
of the state, but by all those who would be voters by its provis- 
ions in case it should be adopted. 

On the 17th of February, the Landholders' Convention com- 
pleted their form of constitution, and submitted it to be voted on 
by the people on the twenty-first, twenty-second, and twenty- 
third days of March, 1842. This constitution greatly enlarged 
the suffrage over what it had previously been, and had such a 
constitution been granted in 1835, would probably have satisfied 
the people and avoided the present dissensions ; but issued as it 
was, after the People's Constitution had been declared adopted, 
and failing to meet the views of those who favored what the 
People's party fancifully called "birthright suffrage," it met with 
a different fate. The difference between these two constitutions 
in'this respect was, briefly, as follows : The People's Constitu- 
tion gave the suffrage to every white male citizen of the United 
States of twenty-one years of age or upwards who had resided in 
the state for one year, and in the district where he offers to vote 
six months previous to the election. The other or Landholders' 
Constitution gave the right, first, to every white male citizen of 
the United States, twenty-one years of age or over, and pos- 
sessed of freehold real estate in the town or city where he votes 
of the clear value of $134, with the residence requirement as in 
the other constitution ; second, to every white male native citi- 
zen of the United States who shall have had his actual perma- 
nent residence and home in this state for the period of two years, 
and six months before election in the district where he offers to 
vote, but not allowing such voter to vote on a motion to impose 
a tax or incur expenses in the town unless he pay a tax on prop- 
erty valued at $150, and third, all white male naturalized citizens 
of the United States who shall have lived in this state three years 
after their naturalization, and six months preceding election in 
the town or city where they offer to vote, and shall have freehold 
real estate in the town or city where they offer to vote of the value 
of $134. 

Upon submitting this constitution to the people it was rejected 
by a vote of 8,013 for it and 8,689 against it, and the constitution 
was declared rejected by a majority of 676. 

The People's party now claimed that their constitution was the 
supreme law of the state, and on the fourth day of April Governor 
King applied to the President of the United States, John Tyler, 
stating that this state was threatened with domestic violence, and 
calling for the protection required by the constitution of the 
United States. President Tyler in reply informed him that the 
United States did not perform police duty in the states to prevent 
insurrections, but assuring the governor that if one arose he 



would secure the recognized existing government ; he advised that 
the Rhode Islanders settle their difficulties among themselves. 
This reply was a careful, candid statement of his position, but it 
satisfied neither party. A convention of the People's party was 
held in April, and Thomas W. Dorr was chosen candidate for 
governor, and candidates for other offices and positions provided 
in their constitution, were nominated. 

Mr. Dorr did not seek the office. It was only after others had 
been nominated and declined that he accepted u the weighty 
trust." He was at this time one of the foremost and most trusted 
men of the state, a practitioner at the bar, one of the state com- 
missioners of the Scituate Bank, the president of the school com- 
mittee of the city of Providence, the treasurer of the Rhode Island 
Historical Society, and holding other trusts, both public and 
private, of great importance and responsibility. He was no mere 
adventurer or political free lance, as some in later and more prej- 
udiced days have represented him. He had been early interested 
in the suffrage movement, and thoroughly believed in the right- 
fulness of it. Just before Mr. Dorr's election, on April 10th, 
another appeal was made to the President by John Whipple, John 
Brown Francis, and Elisha R. Potter, calling themselves "the 
committee from Rhode Island," stating the facts of the case, and 
reminding the President " that the existing government of Rhode 
Island is the one that adopted the constitution of the United States, 
and has ever since been represented in the United States Senate 
and House of Representatives. That it is at this moment the 
existing government of Rhode Island, and is the only government 
in the state entitled to the protection of the constitution of the 
United States." 

On the third Wednesday in April an election under the People's 
Constitution took place peaceably throughout the state. 

The votes under the charter took place the same as usual this 
year ; the votes were sent to Newport. The legislature convened 
there on the first Wednesday, the fourth day of May, and the 
votes were counted in due course and Governor King declared 
reelected. 

On the first Tuesday, third day of May, the legislature elected 
by the People's party, met in Providence. Mr. Dorr and other 
members elect were escorted by a large number of enthusiastic 
citizens, some of whom were armed, from the Hoyle Tavern, 
to a building called the Foundry, on Eddy Street, where the legis- 
lature organized, counted the votes, declared the result, and Gov- 
ernor Dorr delivered his inaugural address. This legislature then 
requested the surrender of the State House to its use, but this re- 
quest proved unavailing. On the second day of their session they 
passed an unanimous act, requiring all persons to deliver into the 
hands of the u proper party" the possession of all public pioperty, 
and then proceeded to immediately adjourn, leaving Mr. Dorr to 
carry the act into effect as best he could. Before adjourning they 
directed the governor " to inform the President of the United 
States, and the governors of the several states, that the government 
of the State of Rhode Island had been duly organized under the 
constitution of the same. That the General Assembly are now in 
session and proceeding to discharge their duties according to the 
provisions of said constitution." The adjournment was to meet 
again at Chepachet, on the fourth day of July the next. 

On the same day, May 4th, the General Assembly at Newport 
resolved, "that there now exists in this state an insurrection 
against the laws and constituted authorities thereof," and called 
on the President of the United States for aid in suppressing the 
same. 

The President, under date of May 7, replied, " that his opinion 
as to the duty of the United States government to protect the 
State of Rhode Island against domestic violence remained un- 
changed, but he understood that the lawless assemblies had been 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



8* 



dispersed, and the danger of domestic violence was hourly 
passing away, and again recommended that Rhode Islanders 
should settle their domestic affairs amongst themselves. He 
added, that if resistance be made to the execution of the laws 
of Rhode Island by such force as the civil posse should be 
unable to overcome, then on application of the governor, 
under the authority of the resolutions already transmitted," 
he should support the state. 

Immediately after the adjournment of the " People's legis- 
lature " Mr. Dorr left the state in order to urge the people's 
cause before the citizens of other states, and at the urgent 
request of his friends he went to Washington, but his visit 
there was without avail. In New York and elsewhere, 
however, he was promised liberal aid in men and money, 
in case the United States government attempted to suppress 
41 freedom of suffrage" in Rhode Island. He returned to 
Providence, where he was received by about fifteen hundred 
citizens, some three or four hundred of whom were armed, 
and escorted to his head-quarters, at the house of Burrington 
Anthony on Federal Hill. On the 16th of May he issued a 
proclamation, calling on the military to hold themselves 
ready for immediate active service, and declaring that if the 
United States interfered, aid from other states would be at 
hand, the contest would '* become national, and our state 
the battle-ground of American freedom." After issuing 
this proclamation he asked if the armed escort that had 
greeted him were ready for active service and was told 
%i no, they were only out on parade." The moment active 
service was spoken of, the " military " and citizens began to 
retire to their homes, and Mr. Dorr was soon left protected 
only by a few friends. He had entered so far into the 
stream that " to go back were worse than to go o'er," and 
feeling that he was supported by the citizens of Rhode 
Island, or that, if he was not, it was time to prove the hol- 
lowness of the pretentions on which his acts were based, he con- 
tinued his attempt to raise a military force sufficient to enable 
him to take possession of the public property, and they slowly 
gathered from town and country, until on the afternoon of May 17, 
he was at the head of about two-hundred and fifty armed men* 
Meanwhile the constituted authorities had not been idle ; the 
militia companies of Providence were kept under arms and on the 
alert. Companies from other towns were notified to be ready to 
march to Providence at a moment's warning, and the arsenal, (to 
the south of the Dexter Training Ground, near Cranston Street,) 
where the state arms were kept, was garrisoned. 

On the afternoon of the 17th of May, Governor Dorr sent a 
requisition to the United Train of Artillery, for the field pieces 
in their possession, (four in number), to be used in the public 
service. After some demur and threatened effort on the part of 
the Dorr forces to burst in the doors, the key was delivered to 
them, on their promise that the guns should be delivered back 
again to the corps. The Dorr forces took two of the cannon and 
carried them to Dorr's head-quarters, whence in the evening Dorr 
and his forces marched to the arsenal, and placed the cannon 
loaded with powder, ball, and bags of slugs, in position for an 
attack. That evening the moon rose in a clear and cloudless sky, 
but before preparations for an attack had been completed a 
penetrating fog set in, so dense that at a dozen yards distant a 
man was indiscernible. Towards midnight a summons was sent 
by flag of truce, to the parties in the arsenal, to surrender to Colo- 
nel Wheeler, in immediate command of the Dorr forces, or to 
Governor Dorr. The officers in command at the arsenal declined 
to recognize such parties, and refused to surrender to them. Upon 
the return of the reply one of Dorr's officers, in command of 
ninety men, remarked " there is danger here," and in a few min- 




HON. TRISTAM BURGES, 
The Distinguished Rhode Island Senator and Orator. From an old Engraving. 

utes he and his command disappeared in the fog, and were no 
more seen there. Nearly all of Mr. Dorr's chief officers also dis- 
appeared in the fog.* 

An attempt was then made by those of the Dorr forces "who 
stayed and went not away," to fire the cannon at the arsenal, but 
the cannon could not be discharged. Repeated attempts were 
made to fire them, but they only flashed, and the fire did not pen- 
etrate to the powder in their chambers. t After this attempt and 
failure, still further desertion of Mr. Dorr's forces followed, leav- 
ing only about fifty or seventy-five men remaining on the ground. 
Mr. Dorr seeing the hopelessness of his cause, at about day-break 
ordered his troops, then reduced to twenty-five or forty men, to 
withdraw, and with them left the field. At about this time the 
state troops from the city marched over to the " battle-ground," 
stood quietly in front of the disabled cannon, till the Dorrites with- 
drew them, and then took possession of the field. 

Later in the morning preparations were made to attack the 
Dorrites at their head-quarters on Federal Hill, to which they 
had betaken themselves with their cannon. The latter had ap- 
pointed new officers in place of those who had deserted, bored 
out and re-loaded their cannon, and given the signal for their 
friends to rally to their support ; but, in Thomas W. Dorr's words, 
" they did not answer the summons. Many who had left their 

• One of Mr. Dorr's chief officer* who did not desert him, testifying at a later day, said 
that it seemed as if the coming up of that unexpected fog was a providential interposition. 
Certainly in view of the facts, it seems as if there was a double meaning in that statement. 

+ It has been stated that the guns were spiked, but on the next morning the touch-holes 
were found to be tilled with a disintegrated incombustible mass that required to be bored 
through with a gimlet before an open passage to the chamber could be made. Whether 
this condition resulted from that "providential fog " acting on the powder, or whether the 
guns were practically useless when taken from the arsenal, and the " Dorrites •• were too 
excited to look to the condition of the pieces before loading them, is an open question. 



Digitized by 



Google 



8 4 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



arms piled at head-quarters did not return. Not a few who had 
voted for the constitution, and who had sustained it with their 
ability, their zeal and means, some with the eloquence of the lips 
and the pen, appeared in arms that day in the ranks of our oppo- 
nents." 

They were ready to argue, vote, and act peacefully in the cause 
of extended suffrage, but not to participate in open, warlike 
contest with the constituted powers. There they drew the line. 
Mr. Dorr's bitterness in speaking of them is natural. He was 
ready to, and practically had, staked, position, fortune, standing 
in the community, — matters that to him were of far more value 
than life itself, — in the cause, and to see these men, whose 
solemn pledges to support him to the last had led him to place 
himself in that position, thus desert him, must have been exas- 
perating. They, on the other hand felt that 

" He who fights, and runs away, 
May live to fight another day, 
While he who is in battle slain, 
Can never live to fight again," 

and did not not see the usefulness or patriotism of sacrificing 
themselves or their families in a hopeless cause, more especially 
as practical guarantees had been given by the authorities that the 
rebellion once suppressed, a new constitution, with an enlarged 
suffrage, would be immediately drafted and submitted to the people. 

At seven o'clock on that morning, Mr. Dorr "had but twenty- 
seven men supporting him. The rallying signal was given but 
not responded to. On the. contrary, Mr. Dorr received word 
from many friends of the cause on whose aid he had depended, 
that under the circumstances they could not assist him. The 
troops of the state, from Providence, Newport, Bristol, and War- 
ren, were all concentrated at Providence, and preparing to march 
against him. Under the circumstances, recognizing the inev- 
itable, he withdrew from the field about half-past eight o'clock, 
and the officer commanding his troops ordered their dismissal. 
Soon after the state troops marched onto the ground, rinding 
twenty-seven Dorrites there who had not dispersed, and demanded 
the surrender of the two guns. The reply was, that the guns 
would be re-delivered during the day at the armory whence they 
were taken, if the state troops withdrew. The state troops there- 
upon withdrew, and the guns were returned that afternoon as 
promised. When Mr. Dorr left the state he assured his partisans 
that when the people of this state were ready to support their 
governor, (himself,) he should be prepared to return and join 
them. 

Mr. Dorr was next reported as making his head-quarters in 
Connecticut, just west of the Rhode Island line, engaged in 
enlisting men and collecting arms for a further attack on this 
state. Upon the strength of these reports, Governor King made 
another call on the President for aid, assuring him that the state 
could take care of its own insurgents, but if the bands then 
organizing in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York should 
make the attack as threatened, with Dorr at their head, assistance 
would be needed. To this President Tyler replied, May 28, 
promising the required assistance, if needed and called for. Let- 
ters were sent to Colonel Bankhead, commander at Fort Adams, 
Newport Harbor, and to Brigadier-General Eustace, commander 
of United States forces at Boston, directing them to obtain all the 
reliable information possible as to the state of affairs in Rhode 
Island. Other preparations were made, so that the intervention 
of the United States forces, if needed, should be speedy and 
effectual. 

About the middle of June a number of the adherents of the 
People's party selected "Acote's Hill," a small eminence near 
Chepachet, in Glocester, and proceeded to establish what was 



called a fortified camp, with the avowed object of protecting 
their legislature at its coming July session. Five cannon were 
mounted, probably equally available with those used against the 
arsenal, embankments thrown up, and armed men began to 
gather there about the 20th of June. Mr. Dorr was then in Kil- 
lingly, Conn., and, upon representations being made to him that 
his appearance in this state would be the signal for the uprising 
of at least fifteen hundred armed adherents to sustain him, with 
more to follow, on Saturday, the twenty -fifth day of June, he left 
Killingly and entered the camp. He found about two hundred 
men there, and issued a proclamation calling out the citizens of 
the state to sustain him. It did not meet with any response, 
further than to increase his force to about two hundred and 
seventy-five men. He was informed that the state had raised 
some three thousand troops to attack his force, and that their 
head-quarters were at Greenville and Scituate, but six or eight 
miles distant ; that many of his warmest political friends and 
officers under the People's Constitution had not only resigned their 
offices, but had joined the state forces, and that Colonel Bankhead 
was at Providence, only awaiting orders to march the United 
States forces against him. 

The position at Acote's Hill was, in a military sense, poorly 
chosen. He had not ammunition sufficient to continue an active 
combat for half an hour. His military chest contained only sev- 
enty dollars. Under these circumstances a council was held June 
17th, and it was resolved to disband the forces forthwith. The 
order for this purpose was drawn and issued about four o'clock 
in the afternoon and read to the assembled troops, who thereupon 
leisurely dispersed. Mr. Dorr remained at the village till about 
seven o'clock in the evening, when he retired to Connecticut. 
Previous to so doing, he caused a copy of the order disbanding 
the troops to be made and sent it to Providence for publication. 
It was received in Providence before dark, and immediately sub- 
mitted to General McNeil, commander of the state forces, and to 
the governor and council. The next morning at about eight 
o'clock the state troops advanced and captured Acote's Hill. 
This affair is always spoken of as the u storming" or the " cap- 
ture" of Acote's Hill, and with special propriety, for excepting 
the five old unloaded cannon frowning down upon them, the hill 
was all there was for the attacking party to capture. Thus ended 
the Dorr War. 

Though the matter, looked at as illumined by the cold light of 
history, seems in some respects almost farcical, it must be remem- 
bered that it was very serious to the participants. The excite- 
ment created was intense, and after the resistance to " consti- 
tuted authority " was suppressed, there followed a series of ar- 
rests for treason, of parties who had taken part on the losing 
side. There was some unavoidable suffering, and no doubt 
much that seemed like persecution ; but we are happy to say that 
no one was executed, no man in Rhode Island lost his life in the 
war ; we were about to say that no bloodshed resulted, but we 
are reminded that after the capture of Acote's Hill, the victorious 
troops did accidentally wound one man, and that on the twenty- 
seventh day of June, in the village of Pawtucket, in North Prov- 
idence, a bullet, carelessly fired from a loyalist's musket, went 
outside of the state and killed a man in Massachusetts. This was 
the extent of the casualties of the war, so far as reliably reported. 
Though the war practically ended at the taking of Acote's Hill, 
yet it was not known at the time but that Mr. Dorr might be in- 
duced to again enter the state and make another attempt against 
its government. The state was therefore kept under martial law 
till the eighth day of August, when that law was suspended till 
September 1 , and on August 30 it was suspended indefinitely. 

It has been stated that one reason of the falling off of Dorr's 
adherents was that they had received satisfactory assurances that 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



a* 



if the rebellion were put down, a constitution correcting the 
grievances existing under the charter, would be instantly for- 
mulated, and submitted to the people. In June, while the camp 
at Acote's Hill was in existence, a bill to call another consti- 
tutional convention was passed. This convention met, and on 
November 5, at East Greenwich, formulated and submitted to the 
people the constitution which is now, with sundry amendments, 
the constitution of the state. It was voted on by the people, on 
Nov. 21, 22, and 23, 1842, and adopted by a vote of 7,032 for, 
and 59 against it. As regards the franchise, it is to a certain 
extent a compromise between the restricted suffrage under the 
charter and the general suffrage claimed by Dorr. 

Though a great gain to those who contended for extended suf- 
frage, its adoption by the people was a solemn admission that all 
lawful changes in government must be made by and with the 
consent of the constituted authorities. That point is fixed in our 
institutions. 

The government under the new constitution was organized May 
2, 1843. It seems proper at this time to conclude the history of 
Mr. Dorr, before returning to other matters relating to the city of 
Providence. After leaving Acote's Hill, he remained in the New 
England States, passing freely from one to another. Efforts were 
made by the Rhode Island authorities to have him arrested, but 
without success. The governors of the states where he was 
alleged to be, freely granted warrants for his arrest when properly 
applied for, but the officer charged with the warrant could never 
find Mr. Dorr. The sympathies of the governments and people 
of the other states, and as is evident from the correspondence, of 
the President of the United States, were all with Mr. Dorr, and 
except in the most perfunctory manner, nothing would be done 
against him. He received notice of each warrant sent out against 
him as soon as it was issued, knew who had it in possession, and 
how to avoid its service. Had life been spared him, he could 
probably have lived to this day without being arrested, had he 
desired so to do. Had he been the cowardly traitor he was stig- 
matized by the more virulent of his enemies as being, he would 
have done so. He did remain out of the state so long as he 
thought that he could in any way help the party and cause to 
which he had devoted his life ; and when he felt that the party 
had given up the struggle by adopting the constitution, he vol- 
untarily came into this state in October, 1843, appeared on the 
streets, and submitted himself to its tribunals. He was arrested 
on a charge of treason, and committed to jail ; h*e made all efforts 
to obtain as speedy a trial as possible, considering that he never 
had been guilty of treason as he had acted in pursuance with the 
expressed will of the majority of the people. His trial com- 
menced April 26, 1844, and continued until the twenty-fifth day 
of the next June. The court decided against him on almost every 
point he raised. The jury found him guilty. He was sentenced 
to imprisonment for life, and committed to jail the same day. The 
true key to his character is found in his address to the court when 
asked if he had anything to say why sentence should not be passed 
against him ; after a short address, he closed his remarks by say- 
ing : u Better men have been worse treated than I have been, 
though not often in a better cause. In the service of that cause I 
have no right to complain that I am called upon to suffer hard- 
ships. . . . All these proceedings will be re-considered by 
that ultimate tribunal of public opinion, whose righteous decision 
will reverse all the wrongs which may be now committed and 
place that estimate upon my actions to which they may be fairly 
entitled. The process of this court does not reach the man 
within. The court cannot shake the convictions of the mind, 
nor the fixed purposes which is sustained by integrity of heart. 
. . . From this sentence of the court I appeal to the people 
of our state and country ; they shall decide between us I com- 
12 




THE ARSENAL, 
Benefit, between Thomas and Meeting Streets. 

mit myself, without distrust, to their final award. I have nothing 
more to say." 

His final appeal to the people was not in vain. Scarcely one 
year had passed away before, in June, 1845, the legislature passed 
an act discharging from prison all # persons who had been con- 
victed of treason against the state. He retired from prison to the 
seclusion of his home, where he lived quietly for years. In 1854 
the General Assembly passed an act repealing, reversing, and 
annulling the sentence of the Supreme Court against him. It 
would almost appear that his sole object in life was to witness the 
public vindication of his character, for on December 27 of the 
same year, he deceased. 

The two railroads already opened from Providence having 
proved very beneficial to its business interests, and the Blackstone 
Canal having shown its inability to meet the demands of the 
traffic of the Blackstone Valley, the plan of building a railroad to 
Worcester was discussed in 1843-4. The population of the towns 
through which it would pass, including Providence and Worcester, 
was in 1844 about seventy-four thousand. The amount then paid 
for freight and passenger (stage) traffic was $213,482. In view 
of these facts such a railroad was deemed advisable, and in May, 
1844, a charter for the Rhode Island portion was obtained. In 
the preceding month of March a charter for the Massachusetts 
portion had been obtained from the legislature of that state, and 
in October, 1845, the General Assembly of Rhode Island author- 
ized the two corporations to combine in one. The first question 
was, where should be the Providence terminus. In 1845, the 
company proposed to the city council to make the Cove below the 
state prison, on Great Point, into an elliptical basin, of its present 
dimensions, with a street round the basin eighty feet wide. The 
westerly section of the ellipse from Sabin Street to the state 
prison not to be completed at that time. Canal and Cove streets 
to be made eighty fqet wide. The space between these streets 
and the street round the Cove basin to be occupied by railroad 



Digitized by 



Google 



86 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTAIIONS. 



tracks, depots, and railroad buildings. Any filled in land not so 
occupied to be public highway or grounds, and if thereafter any 
portion of such lands should cease to be used for railroad pur- 
poses it should become open for the use of the public. The 
road was to build the walls, streets, culverts, and bridges neces- 
sary from the state prison round to Sabin Street, and dredge out 
the Cove to a given depth, and the city to maintain these erections 
except those used for railroad purposes only ; the railroad to have 
a right to charge reasonable compensation from any railroad 
hereafter entering said made land from the west of Exchange 
Street. In February, 1846, a detailed plan substantially as above, 
was agreed to by the city council and the railroad, and work upon 
it was immediately begun. The details of the plan appear not 
to have been fully conformed to,.and there were disputes between 
the railroad and the city in regard to such non-conformance till 
February, 1850, when the city accepted $11,000 from the railroad 
in lieu of all demands on account of this matter. In October, 
1847, tne Providence and Worcester road was opened to traffic, 
using its freight house as a passenger station, the central passen- 
ger station not being then completed. 

The Boston and Providence road having an arrangement with 
the Providence and Worcester road to enter the city on its track, 
laid a branch track to it from the u East Junction," and in 
August, 1848, both roads ran trains into the completed central 
station. In 1847 the New York, Providence and Boston Rail- 
road was authorized to enter the city from the westward, and 
connect with the central depot, filling in parts of the Cove to the 
westward of the station for railroad purposes and public use. 
No sooner was this completed, in 1848, than the through route 
from Boston to New York via India Point and the steam ferry 
was given up, and busy, bustling India Point became a com- 
paratively neglected locality. 

In 1852 the Providence, Hartford and Fishkill Railroad was 




THOMAS W. DORR. 



allowed to enter the city and central depot on land to the north- 
ward of that of the New York, Providence and Boston Railroad, 
and to fill in lands for railroad purposes, on condition that they 
completed the building of the ellipse and built certain retaining 
walls. The city afterwards received a certain sum of money in 
lieu of the retaining walls specified, and built the retaining walls 
as they now stand. In later times the city has filled in the land 
back of the retaining walls till the Cove has assumed its present 
appearance, a marked contrast with that shown on the earlier 
maps. 

The relations of the city's business centre to the railroads was 
hardly established on a satisfactory basis before the question of 
introducing a still more rapid means of communication inter- 
ested our citizens. A system of telegraphing by signal posts 
with movable arms attached had been agitated years before. 
Such a system, called a "telephore," had been in practice in 
France many years, and one was discussed to be put in operation 
between here and Boston, but later the far more definite, reliable, 
and certain system of the magnetic telegraph was invented, and 
in 1847 the Rhode Island Magnetic Telegraph Company was 
incorporated, with power to connect different places in our state 
by aerial lines of wire, and to connect such lines with other lines 
out of the state, for use in the transmission of telegraphic mes- 
sages. The manner in which this was to be done was incompre- 
hensible to most of the people, but many who deemed it impos- 
sible have lived to see uses of electricity' still more marvelous, till 
to-day the question seems to be, not what can be done, but what 
cannot be done by that subtle and powerful agent. 

The growth of Providence was exemplified in many other 
ways in this year. 

In every direction the city was stretching out its Briarean arms. 
New streets were growing all around it, new manufactories were 
springing up in every quarter. Cotton and woolen mills, en- 
gine works, foundries, jewelry manufactories, and numerous 
minor branches of manufacturing were being rapidly devel- 
oped. Encouragement was given to all business enterprises 
that seemed to be hopeful, and when, as must have been the 
case, some failed of success, the citizens quietly accepted 
their loss and pressed forward the more successful ones. 

As showing the desire of the people for better and more 
light, the Providence Gas Company, which was incorporated 
in 1847, commenced the manufacture and supply of gas in 
December, 1848. In its charities, — the Butler Hospital 
opened its doors for the reception of patients Dec. 1, 1847. 
In its care for the last resting-places of the bodies of its dead 
1 — the beautiful Swan Point Cemetery then came into char- 
I tered existence. 

This successful business activity continued, and soon brought 
about a change and improvement in the business buildings of 
our city. The What Cheer block, built in 1850-51, was a 
specimen of the new order of buildings. To this building 
the post-office was removed, and remained till its transfer to 
its present quarters, in the close of the year 1S57. Since that 
time there has been an almost uninterrupted course of im- 
provements in the direction of business buildings. The old 
erections of that class have been removed, and new and more 
elegant ones taken their places, till now there are left standing 
in the heart of the city but comparatively few, and they of 
the best class of buildings, that were standing in 1847% A 
similar improvement has taken place in the private residences 
in the city. 

By the year 1850, Providence had grown to be a city of 

41,503 inhabitants, — of whom the majority resided on the 

west side of the river, — and with a valuation of $31,969,600. 

During the last two decades a marked change had taken 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



87 



place in the commerce of the city. The old East India trade had 
entirely passed away. The only remnant of the trade with the far 
East that remained was that of Rufus Greene, whose ships and 
barques continued as late as the close of the decade i8$o-'6o to 
arrive at Fox Point from the Mozambique country, bearing car- 
goes consisting of dates, palm oil, ivory, and gold-dust, gathered 
by his smaller vessels along the eastern shore of Africa. The 
foreign commerce generally, was in a state of decadence. Vessels 
occasionally arrived at our wharves from Europe, but such arrivals 



The devotion of our citizens to the development of the city 
was interrupted in the years 1853-55 by another political whirl- 
wind, as strange and unreasonable as the anti-Masonic excite- 
ment, which swept over the country, — more baleful in its results 
if it continued to prevail, but fortunately not so long in continu- 
ance. It was the Know Nothing excitement, and took the form 
of a secret political organization, with the cardinal principle that 
none but native-born citizens should hold office, or have a voice 
in controlling the destinies of the country. If inquired of as to 




The Old City Building. 
Franklin Hall. 

MARKET SQUARE IN 1844. 



Franklin House. 



Ilvppin Building. 



were rendered conspicuous by their infrequency. The earliest 
and latest foreign trade of the city, that with the West India 
Islands, was fast declining, and this generation has seen its total 
decay. The whaling business had grown to a considerable prom- 
inence and utterly passed away. In lieu of the foreign trade there 
had grown up a domestic commerce with the other states of the 
Union, which in its bulk and amount had dwarfed and rendered 
insignificant the foreign commerce of the early days. That com- 
merce has kept extending till its proportions are now, compared 
with those of the earlier commerce, gigantic. 

Of late a great deal has been said of the decay and falling off 
of Providence commerce, meaning thereby its maritime inter- 
ests ; but the fact is, that the maritime commerce of to-day is 
greater than it ever was before, and that it has never for any long 
period, declined during the last century. There has been simply 
a change of direction and of methods. Instead of a few scores of 
thousand tons of freight from foreign shores annually landed on 
our wharves, as in former* days, there are now millions of tons 
from points on the coast of the United States. This consists 
largely of merchandise of which our ancestors scarcely knew the 
use : as an illustration, anthracite coal, of which, seventy years 
ago, scarcely one ton was brought here, while last year, 1885, 
820,510 tons were delivered by vessels at this port; or cotton, of 
which, in 181 5, less than 10,000 bales were received, while last 
year 245,605 bales were received. 



the purposes or personality of the organization, it was required 
that each member should u know nothing," hence the name. 
Absurd as it seems, the Know Nothing influence spread like a 
contagious fever all through the land, from Maine to California, 
taking Providence Plantations in its course. In 1855, combined 
with the Whigs, they elected the governor of Rhode Island by a 
four- fifths vote. In other states it was equally powerful. In 
1856, fortunately, it had ceased to exist. 

Another railroad, the Providence, Warren and Bristol Rail- 
road, was added to the system centering at Providence in the 
year 1854. This road, so far as giving dividends to its stock- 
holders is concerned, has never yet proved a successful enterprise, 
but like the Blackstone Canal, it has been of great benefit to the 
interests of the city. 

The most disastrous financial panic that Providence ever en- 
dured commenced in the fall of 1856. It was not confined to 
Providence — the whole country suffered from it, and the causes, 
reactions, and effects of it are matters rather of national than of 
local history. We can, however, take pride in remembering and 
noting that amid the general crash of mercantile houses, the 
failures and suspensions of banks and banking firms, the stop- 
page of manufactories, the harrowing uncertainty of the wealthy 
classes, whether the coming day would find them millionaires or 
penniless, Providence came nobly forward and provided work 
and food for her poorer classes during the hard winter of 1856-7. 



Digitized by 



Google 



88 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




FOX POINT OBSERVATORY. 
An Old-time Place of Resort, on the site of the Fox HHI Fort. 

Those absolutely unable to work were provided with food and 
fuel without the ignominy of going to the poor-house, and to 
employ the able ones the city took this opportunity to furnish 
them occupation in bringing Smith's Hill, before then a level 
plain ending in a high bluff, to its present grade, using the earth 
thence removed to fill in the back Cove lands. This was done 
regardless of the fact that the state might claim title to the lands 
after they were filled.* This action of the city enabled the able- 
bodied poor to live through that winter without sacrificing their 
independence by becoming recipients of charity. During the next 
year the financial storm passed away and business revived. 
Financial reverses of perhaps greater dimensions have since been 
experienced in our city, but none have threatened such wide- 
spread suffering as did those of that disastrous season. 

Interesting, as showing the drift of the city to the westward, 
centering on what in Roger Williams' day were the marshes and 
flats of the great salt river, is the fact that the post-office at the 
close of the year 1857, was move d to the granite building on the 
made land east of Weybosset Street, where it is now located. 
The Custom House was also removed from its previous location 
on the east side of the river, — South Main Street, — to its larger 
quarters in this building, thus acquiring needed space for its 
largely increasing business. 

Standing north of this building is what was eighty years ago the 
Washington Hotel, then one of the most popular of the taverns of 
the city. The westward movement of the town has affected the 
hotels as well as other branches of business, and we find them 
now nearer what were formerly the corn-fields on the western side 
of the town, but are now covered with costly buildings. A com- 
parison of this old landmark, the upper stories of which present 
much the appearance of eighty years ago, with the modern Nar- 
ragansett Hotel, corner Dorrance and Broad streets, or the Hotel 
Dorrance, between Westminster and Fulton streets, is interesting 
and instructive, as is also the contrast in architecture of this build- 
ing with the custom house and post-office building by its side. 

With the steady growth of the city, the increase in number, 
size, and height of its buildings, and the storage therein of larger 
amounts of inflammable merchandise, came a necessity for 
greater protection against fire. We have shown how the u hy- 

* The state did claim such title and the city of Providence was obliged to pay to the state 
$100,000, to extinguish such claim of title, though it is a question whether the title did not 
really belong to the " proprietors." 



draulions " took the place of the older bucket and pump engine 
system. The hydraulion engines were also supplemented by 
stationary engines, consisting of force pumps, each worked by a 
large number of men, the engines being connected with fire wells 
or cisterns, and capable of forcing a powerful stream of water 
through 1,000 feet of hose. These machines, both stationary and 
hydraulion, were each worked by a volunteer company, and to 
belong to a fire company was an honor sought after by the enter- 
prising young men of the town. 

In process of time, as the extinguishment of fires became re- 
duced to a system, it became necessary to abolish the volunteer 
system, and in 1854 t*" s step was taken, and thenceforward the 
crews of the engines were regularly paid officers of the city. 
This greatly improved the efficiency of the fire department, but 
the risk was growing faster than the means of meeting it, and the 
need of a plentiful supply of water running through all the prin- 
cipal streets was felt to be a vital one. The growth of the city, 
with the density of its buildings, also made the procurement of a 
supply of pure water for domestic purposes a matter of difficulty. 
In view of these facts an attempt was made in 1856 to induce the 
city to establish a system of municipal water works, taking the 
water from the Ten Mile River in Massachusetts, but for various 
reasons, chiefly that the supply was deemed inadequate, the meas- 
ure was not supported. 

Again in 1858, the matter was pressed to a vote of the citi- 
zens, and again the decision was against it. Some fearful catas- 
trophe from fire might have resulted from this delay on the part 
of the citizens, but for the introduction of steam fire engines, in 
the years 1858-9. No sooner was the effectiveness of this inven- 
tion demonstrated, than a liberal policy was pursued in procuring 
an ample supply and properly locating them over the growing 
city. Through them and their effective control and management 
by a skillful fire department, our city was saved from its greatest 
danger, a conflagration, till in later years an enlarged policy de- 
cided to furnish the city with an ample supply of water from the 
Pawtuxet River. Since this last measure was effected few cities 
have been better guarded from loss by fire, than Providence. 

During the years '58 and '59, Providence seemed to have fully 
recovered from the disastrous effects of the financial crisis of 
1856-7, and as time rolled on in its appointed course, the year i860 
came in with every prospect bright before the city, and no sign 
visible upon its horizon of the lurid tempests that were even then 
gathering their forces to break upon it. How little we know of 
the future, and how fortunate it is we know so little ! Could our 
citizens have foreseen on the-ist of January, i860, what the next 
few years would 
bring forth, there 
would have been 
little heartiness in 
their greetings of 
a "Happy New 
Year " on that 
day, but as it was, 
lulling themselves 
with the thought 
that the hardships 
of the past were 
all over, they gave 
way to New Year's 
rejoicings, and in 
that spirit we leave 
them at the close 
of this chapter. the athen/eum. 

Located corner of Benefit and College Streets. 





"§ iSf 




L-f^B It I 


_ Sfe 


m mm-*' 









Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter X. 



PROVIDENCE DURING AND SINCE THE WAR OF THE REBELLION, 1860-1886. 

PROVIDENCE IN i860 — POLITICAL SITUATION OF ITS INHABITANTS, NATIONAL AND LOCAL — THE SPRAGUE-PADELFORD CAMPAIGN 

THE END OF VOTE-BUYING IN PROVIDENCE — THE NATIONAL POLITICAL CAMPAIGN OF i860 — RESULTS OF THE SAME — 

WAITING SECESSION AND ITS EFFECTS ON PROVIDENCE — FIRING ON FORT SUMTER — THE PARTICIPATION OF PROVIDENCE 

IN THE UPRISING OF THE NORTH — THE RAISING OF TROOPS FOR THE CONTEST FOR THE NATION'S EXISTENCE — REGIMENTS 
AND BATTERIES RAISED IN PROVIDENCE — BOUNDARY CONTROVERSIES SETTLED — HORSE-CAR SYSTEM INTRODUCED — FUR- 
THER RAISING OF REGIMENTS — END OF THE WAR — PEACEFUL DEVELOPMENT — SCHOOLS — WATER SUPPLY — INCREASE 

OF TERRITORIAL LIMITS — NEW BRIDGES — ROGER WILLIAMS PARK — SOLDIERS* MONUMENT INTRODUCTION OF WATER — 

BUSINESS BUILDINGS — FURTHER ANNEXATIONS — BROOK STREET IMPROVEMENTS — u SPRAGUE FAILURE " AND ITS RESULTS 
CRAWFORD STREET BRIDGE NEW SCHOOL-HOUSES LIBRARIES COUNTY COURT HOUSE PROVIDENCE IN l88o BOUND- 
ARY LINES — RAILROAD TERMINAL FACILITIES — VARIOUS PLANS — NEW SCHOOLS — HOMOEOPATHIC HOSPITAL — PROVI- 
DENCE IN 1885 — PREPARING FOR THE 25OTH ANNIVERSARY — DEATH OF MAYOR THOMAS A. DOYLE — TABULAR STATE- 
MENT OF GROWTH OF POPULATION OF PROVIDENCE, 1636-1886 — BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT IN SAME PERIOD. 




GEN. AMBROSE EVERETT BURNSIDE. 

We find Providence entering upon the year i860 with a pop- 
ulation of 50,666; a valuation of $58,131,800, and a debt of 
$236,186.63. The annual expenses of the city were about $326, 
000. These were provided for by a tax of $5.60 on each one 
thousand dollars' worth of property. 

The prosperous condition of the city is well shown by the fact 
that the expense of caring for the poor in the year ending in 
June, i860, was $1,500 less than in the preceding year, and less 
than it had been in any year since 1848. 



The number of miles of streets and roads had grown from 
about forty in 1832, to about seventy — the increase being almost 
entirely in streets, in distinction with roads in the country parts, 
which latter remained almost the same. 

The fire department was being steadily developed, and in the 
summer of this year was farther improved by the introduction 
of an electric fire-alarm system, one of the earliest introduced 
in this country. Every other department of the municipality 
was in a high state of efficiency, and as the city was growing, 
was developing to meet its needs. 

To properly appreciate the history of Providence for the next 
four years, it is necessary to understand the political condition 
both of the nation and the state at the commencement of the 
year i860. In national politics the citizens were divided 
broadly into two parties, the Democratic and Republican, with 
a minor party, the Constitutional Union, composed of the 
debris of the Know Nothing and other dead parties. There 
were minoj points of dissension, but the main issue between 
them was the question of the introduction and spread of slavery 
into the parts of the country (the territories) that were not or- 
ganized into states. The Democratic party claimed, and with 
historic ground for the argument, that the normal condition of 
the inhabitants of the United States was that of a slave-holding 
people. That the free states were incidental developments 
arising after the formation of the nation. It followed, they 
claimed, that a slave-holder had a perfect right to hold and 
enjoy his property in slaves anywhere in the lands belonging 
to and controlled by the national government. This being 
granted, it followed that if a majority of citizens favoring 
slavery were inhabitants of a territory organizing as a new 
state, such state would be a slave-holding state, or slave state, 
as it was called. 

The Republican party claimed that the rights of humanity in 
the "living present" were of greater weight than arguments 
drawn from a "dead past," and that justice, humanity, and moral 
obligations required that the United States government should, 
so far as its power under the constitution extended, limit the 
holding of slaves to the then present slave states and forbid its 
introduction into the territories. 

The question was not a new one ; it had been often, and somc- 



Digitized by 



Google 



go 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




HON. HENRY B. ANTHONY, 
United States Senator. 

times fiercely and bitterly, discussed in the halls of Congress 
between Northern and Southern statesmen, but rather as an inci- 
dental question among other party issues of the day. Attempts 
had been made to settle it by compromise many years before, as 
in the Missouri Compromise, 1821, whereby it was agreed that 
slavery should not be allowed in future north of the parallel 
36 30' of north latitude ; but the matter would not stay settled, 
and after the meteoric course of the Know Nothing party in 
1853, the Republican party gradually grew, into power, absorbing 
the Free Soil and other minor parties opposed to slavery, with, as 
its cardinal principle, the exclusion of slavery from, the territories. 
The Republican party was the smaller of the two, but its mem- 
bers were the most united. They were almost entirely citizens 
of the free (non-slavery permitting) states. The Democratic 
party, while it embraced the majority of the voters of the nation, 
was divided into two factions : the ultra-Democrats, mostly res- 
idents of the slave states, who maintained their doctrine to the 
extent that the United States should maintain and enforce the 
rights of slave-holders till the territory became a state, and the 
Squatter Sovereignty party, or Douglas Democrats, as they were 
afterwards called from their leader, Stephen A. Douglas, of Illi- 
nois, who claimed that as soon as a territory was sufficiently set- 
tled for a territorial government to be organized in it, this and 
other questions should be left to the settlers to be by them deter- 
mined. The strength of this faction was mainly in the free 
states. 

Since 1856, Rhode Island had been considered, politically, a 
Republican state, the vote standing in 1859 about two-thirds 
Republican to one-third Democratic. Early in the year i860, 
the Republicans nominated Seth Padelford as candidate for gov- 
ernor. Many Republicans were dissatisfied with this nomina- 
tion, and calling themselves Conservatives, they joined with the 
Democratic party and nominated William Sprague, of Provi- 
dence, for the same office. 



William Sprague was the son of Amasa Sprague, who, with 
his brother William, had early in this century formed the house 
of A. & W. Sprague, which adopted and continued a busi- 
ness of cotton manufacturing which had years before been 
established by their father, William Sprague, of Cranston. 
As the cotton manufacturing interests developed, this firm be- 
came rich and powerful. In the anti-Masonic and Dorr War 
times the members of this firm had been influential factors, 
William (then of Warwick) having been governor in 1838, and 
receiving the greatest vote of any candidate for the office in 
1839. Amasa Sprague had been murdered in Cranston in 1845, 
leaving two infant sons, who, in the course of years, after the 
decease of their uncle William, had succeeded to the possession 
and control of the business of the firm, with their cousin Byron 
as an inactive partner. William was, in i860, but twenty-eight 
years old. He was possessed of great pecuniary resources, 
and determined, for what he considered the honor of the family, 
that he should be elected. On the other hand the Republican 
party were determined that the " rents and remnants " of the 
party, as the Conservatives were disdainfully called, should not, 
by an alliance with the Democrats, be enabled to rule the state. 
Both sides poured out money like water. It was used freely 
for legitimate and illegitimate election expenses. Every pos- 
sible vote that could be gathered, begged, or bought, was 
obtained on either side. In the heat of the enthusiasm, men 
ordinarily of strict integrity, seemed scarcely conscious of moral 
distinctions as applied to politics, and when William Sprague 
was elected governor by a majority of 1,399 m a vote °f 2 3>" 
349, and the passions of election had time to cool, both parties 
were thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Neither party blamed 
the other. Each took shame to themselves. Each resolved 
that whatever the other party might do, its own skirts should be 
clear of the stain of vote-buying in the future. These resolves 
have been generally kept ; whatever individuals may have done, 
whatever other form of corruption may have crept into political 
management, the buying of votes has always been sternly repressed 
by the management of all political parties since the campaign 
of i860. 

This election had an effect on the national destiny beyond that 
of ordinary Rhode Island elections. At the time it was held the 
Democratic party were preparing for a national convention, held 
in Charleston, S. C, April 23d, and the result of this election 
was heralded to them as a Democratic victory in the Republican 
state of Rhode Island, an evidence of increasing power of the 
Democratic party in the North, and had an effect in giving to the 
South a confidence that in case of secession they would have a 
" divided North" to fight against, which was a large element in 
their traitorous plans. At this Charleston Convention dissensions 
immediately arose between the two wings or factions of the 
Democratic party, and the Southern delegates withdrew from the 
convention. The convention adjourned to meet at Baltimore, 
June 18th. The Southern wing "bolted" the acts of the con- 
vention and adjourned to meet at Richmond, June nth. 

May 9th, the Constitutional Union party, at a convention in 
Baltimore, nominated John Bell, of Tennessee, and Edward 
Everett, of Massachusetts. 

A National Republican Convention was held at Chicago, May 
1 8th, and nominated Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, and Hannibal 
Hamlin, of Maine, as candidates for President and Vice-President. 
The Democratic Convention at Richmond nominated John C. 
Breckenridge, of Kentucky, and Joseph Lane, of Oregon, to the 
same offices. 

The regular Democratic Convention at Baltimore nominated 
Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, and Hershel V. Johnson, of 
Georgia, to the same offices. 

Throughout the summer and fall the most exciting political 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



9> 



campaign was had that the country has ever known. It seemed 
in a great measure to absorb all other interests. The Southern 
Democrats freely threatened that the slave states would secede 
from the Union if the Breckenridge ticket was not elected, but 
this was considered at the North as a mere campaign threat. 
When the election was held, November 6, the Republican or 
Lincoln ticket secured 180 electoral votes, having all the free 
state votes except that of New Jersey. The Bell ticket had the 
thirty-nine electoral votes of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee ; 
the Douglas ticket the twelve votes of Missouri and New Jersey, 
and the Breckenridge ticket the seventy-two electoral votes of the 
remaining slave states. 

The popular vote was as follows: Lincoln, 1,866,452; Doug- 
las, 994,139; Breckenridge, 669,082; Bell, 575,193; Fusion 
tickets opposed to Lincoln, 575,327 ; total 4,680,193. 

It is seen that Lincoln's popular vote was less than two-fifths 
of the total vote of the country ; and that he was elected by votes 
from the free-state section of the country. These facts were 
brought prominently forward in affecting public opinion by 
statesmen of the Southern States. 

Having elected the Republican President, the country at large, 
including the citizens of Providence, waited to see what would 
be the next act of the defeated parties. The main question was 
whether the threats made in the South that if the Republican 
party were successful the Southern States would secede from the 
Union would be carried into effect. The whole country was 
waiting with no little anxiety to see what course would be 
adopted. Nor had they long to wait. 

The State of South Carolina called a convention to meet De- 
cember 17th, to discuss the question of secession, and on the 
20th of December that convention adopted an ordinance of seces- 
sion, giving for reason the hostility of the Republican party to 
slavery. State after state of the slave-state group followed in 
such rapid and unvarying succession that by May, 1S61, eleven 
had formally seceded, while the remaining ones, Tennessee, 
Kentucky, and Maryland, hung trembling in the balance. 

Till the 4th of March, 1861, President Buchanan sat supinely 
in the Presidential chair, lamenting the action of the seceding 
states, but believing that while they had no right to secede, he 
had no right to prevent such action. The seceding states mean- 
while seized the United States property within their limits, and 
when Mr. Lincoln assumed the Presidency only Fort Sumter, in 
Charleston Harbor, Fort Pickens, at Pensacola, and the fort at 
Key West remained of the garrisoned posts in the Southern States 
in the hands of the United States officers, and of these the first 
two were closely besieged. 

While these events were taking place at the South, the feelings 
of the citizens of the North were at first those of utter astonish- 
ment. They could not believe that the Southern people seriously 
meant to destroy the Union. Then as the movement spread and 
increased in force they felt that, whether sincere or not, the 
movement should be suppressed, and when President Buchanan 
professed his legal inability to " coerce " the seceding states, a 
vague feeling of alarm pervaded the community, as no one knew 
how far such doctrine might infect other citizens of the Northern 
States ; but when the forces of the seceding states besieged the 
United States forts and no movement was made to actively resist 
them ; when border states that had been relied upon to check the 
movement gave voice in its favor; when General Twiggs, in 
Texas, surrendered fully half of the army of the United States 
to that state ; when, as the several states seceded, Cabinet officers 
and trusted army and navy officers of high rank resigned or left 
the service of the United States and entered that of the seceded 
ones ; when it was realized that under orders of such resigning 
Cabinet officers nearly all the available arms of the United States 



had been collected in the seceded ones and seized by them ; that 
the one-half of the army that remained was mainly scattered over 
the western territories, beyond the reach of railroad or telegraph, 
and that the navy had been sent off to foreign service, a feeling of 
alarm that well-nigh grew into terror was developed throughout 
the North among the loyal citizens, and was fully experienced in 
Providence. 

The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations had 
been strenuous and prompt in its offers of aid to the government. 
Governor Sprague early offered assistance to President Buchanan, 
who rejected it. Again, on Jan. 1, 1861, Secretary of State John 
R. Bartlett wrote to the Secretary of War, making the same prof- 
fer, which was disregarded. 

Again, on the twenty-fourth day of January, Governor Sprague, 
through Maj. William Goddard, made an informal offer of the 
troops of this state to serve in the protection of the United States 
government. This last offer was made to General Scott, who 
felt compelled to decline it in the absence of authorization to 
accept it from his superiors, the President and Secretary of War. 
Henry B. Anthony, of Providence, at this time Senator from the 
State of Rhode Island, was also conspicuous for his efforts in the 
cause of the Union. 

It was a time that tried men's souls. We of the north were 
lying supinely on our backs, held by reverence to the forms of 




WILLIAM SPRAGUE, 
Tht first "War Govt r nor " of Rhodt Island. 



Digitized by 



Google 



92 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



the law, while the Executive, whose duty it was to enforce the 
laws and protect the country, was allowing the vulture of seces- 
sion unobstructedly to tear out its vitals. How long would it 
last, and would the process be so far completed by March 4th, 
1861, that Mr. Lincoln would then find only a shattered, disinte- 
grated country, unable to control itself, much less suppress its en- 
emies, to rule over, were questions anxiously asked by agitated 
citizens during those momentous months. The citizens of Prov- 
idence bore their full share in this suffering. Even when a Brit- 
ish army and fleet was thundering in our bay, the citizens of Prov- 
idence never bore such a weight of anxiety and uncertainty as in 
the winter of i86o-'6i ; and the darkest days of the war that fol- 
lowed it, seemed light in comparison with those of that season. 

On the 4th of March, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated 
President of the United States, and announced his determination 
to preserve the integrity of the Union. 

The army of the United States after the surrender of General 
Twiggs and forces under his command to the State of Texas, 
consisted of about six thousand men, who were mainly scattered 
over the Indian frontier. How far its officers were infected by 
the secession spirit was unknown. It behooved President Lincoln 
to act slowly and with caution. To many his announced deter- 
mination to maintain the integrity of the Union seemed Quixotic. 
The North, however, had by this time recovered from the stupor 
of its first astonishment at attempted secession as an existing fact, 
and was rapidly crystallizing to support the national government. 
When the secessionists, on April 12, opened fire on Fort Sumter, 
its voice was heard in indignation, and when, on April 14, Major 
Anderson was compelled to surrender the disabled fort, the North 
resolved that at all hazards secession should be crushed. On the 
15th of April President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 
75,000 volunteers for three months' service in putting down the 
rebellion, and then the citizens of Providence, as well as the rest 
of the North, breathed more freely, and felt more confidence in 
the future than for months before. There was to be no more 
listless inaction in the face of an active enemy. Instantly a 

The American 
flag was seen 
flying from 
almost every 
house, and 
men hastened 
to the recruit- 
ing offices to 
ofler their ser- 
vices to the 
government. 
Ambrose 
E. Burnside, 
then treasurer 
of the Illinois 
Central Rail- 
road, and a 
resident of 
the city of 
New York, 
was sitting in 
his office in 
that city 
when he re- 
ceived the 
telegraphic 
dispatch from 
the county court house, Governor 

Corner of Benefit and College Streets. Spraglie : 



change came over the appearance of the city. 




"A regiment of Rhode Island troops will go to Washington this 
week ; how soon can you come on and take command ? " The 
reply was flashed back over the wires : "At once." The next 
morning he was in Providence, had received his commission, 
appointed his staff, and commenced the work of organizing and 
equipping the regiment. 

The streets of Providence now resounded with the tramp of 
armed men and the notes of martial music. The vestries of the 
churches, halls, and private dwellings were filled with women at 
work upon the outfit of the soldiers. The country towns vied 
with Providence and Newport in the good work. Twenty-five 
hundred men volunteered for service in this regiment, and the 
fifteen hundred not allowed to depart in it felt as if they had met 
a personal loss. The regiment was selected from this array of 
volunteers as follows : six companies from Providence, one from 
Newport, one from Pawtucket, one from Westerly, and one from 
Woonsocket. 

In five days after the call was issued the first half of the regi- 
ment, numbering some five hundred rank and file, under the 
command of Col. Ambrose E. Burnside, left Providence for 
Washington. Four days later the second half of the regiment, 
under Lieut.-Col. Joseph S. Pitman, left the city for the same 
destination. This regiment was among the first troops that 
arrived at the threatened capital of the country, and was an im- 
portant factor m saving it from seizure by the " Confederates." 
A battery of artillery was also organized in Providence by Capt. 
Charles H. Tompkins, and under command of the Hon. Samuel 
G. Arnold, lieutenant-governor elect of the state, left Providence 
on the 18th of April, and after remaining ten days at Easton, 
Penn., perfecting its drill, reached Washington on the second 
day of May, being the first volunteer battery that entered the 
field. 

To raise and equip this regiment and battery, a great deal of 
money was required. The state was unprepared for the emer- 
gency, and the legislature could not be called in special session 
in time to authorize the necessary expenditures. At this crisis 
Governor Sprague and the house of A. & W. Sprague came for- 
ward and offered their guaranty that the accounts should be paid, 
and thus enabled the Rhode Island troops to be sent to the front 
far more speedily than could have been done had the ordinary 
course of state expenditures been pursued. Thus, to a large 
extent, the safety of Washington in the early days of the Rebel- 
lion was due to Providence. If the secessionists derived comfort 
and encouragement from the election of Governor Sprague in 
i860, his action and that of his supporters in 1861 speedily de- 
stroyed all hopes based on such false premises. 

The organizations under the first call of the President were 
hardly forwarded before it became obvious that the rebellion had 
assumed such proportions that all hopes of quelling it in ninety 
days were illusory, and the President issued a call for more men 
to serve for three years or the war. On the 8th of June, Gov- 
ernor Sprague issued an order for the organization of a second 
regiment of infantry and battery of artillery, and a camp for that 
purpose was established on the Dexter Training Ground, with 
Maj. John S. Slocum of the First Regiment, who had also 
creditably served in the Mexican War, as colonel, and Col. Wil- 
liam Goddard, of the governor's staff, as temporary lieutenant- 
colonel. The latter, upon being appointed for other duties, was 
relieved, and Charles T. Robbins appointed temporary lieuten- 
ant-colonel in his stead. At the request of Colonel Slocum, Col. 
Christopher Blanding assisted in drilling the regiment. The 
First Regiment and Battery had been raised mostly in Providence 
and vicinity, but in the Second and other regiments raised in later 
periods of the war, the other portions of the state took their pro- 
portional part and showed themselves to be not behind Provi- 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



93 



dence in patriotism. With the Second Regiment Governor 
Sprague himself took the field, and arrived in Washington on 
June 2 2d. He remained most of the time at and near Washing- 
ton, for some weeks giving whatever aid was in his power to the 
sorely beset national government. 

On the 28th of July the First Regiment, having served out its 
term of enlistment and voluntarily remained to take part in the 
first battle of Bull Run after their time of enlistment had expired, 
returned to Providence, where they were enthusiastically received 
by the citizens. It is due to this regiment to say that it served 
as a school for officers, and a very large proportion of its mem- 
bers served afterwards as officers in the later formed regiments. 

In August Governor Sprague ordered the organization of a 
third regiment of infantry. The camp for this regiment, Camp 
Ames, was on the Spring Greene Farm, in Warwick. On Sep- 
tember 7th this regiment left Camp Ames, marched to Provi- 
dence, and embarked on the steamer "Commodore" for a camp 
on Long Island, which was under command of Gen. T. W. 
Sherman. On the 17th of February, 1862, authority was given 
to increase the regiment to twelve companies, and to change it 
from infantry to heavy artillery. 

The furnishing of men was not the only service that Providence 
was giving to aid the national cause. The Burnside Rifle Com- 
pany and the Providence Tool Company were supplying the gov- 
ernment with rifles of the best known manufacture, cannon were 
being made by the Builders' Iron Foundry, on High Street, while 
mills and tailors were busy at the work of supplying uniforms 
and clothing for the "boys in blue." 

In September a fourth regiment was organized, having a camp 
at Camp Greene, in Warwick, which left Providence October 
2d, for Washington, commanded by Col. Justus I. McCarty, who 
was succeeded by Col. Isaac £. Rodman, October 19th. Again, 
in October, a fifth battalion of infantry was organized, firstly at 
Camp Greene, and then transferred to Camp Slocum, at Dexter 
Training Ground, in Providence. This battalion, commanded 
by Maj. John G. Wright, left Providence on the 27th of Decem- 
ber, to join, at Annapolis, the expedition against North Carolina 
under General Burnside, the former colonel of the First Rhode 
Island. This battalion was afterwards recruited to a regiment 
of ten companies, and transferred from the infantry to the artil- 
lery branch of the service, and Col. Henry T. Sisson succeeded 
to the command. 

Meantime a regiment of light artillery had been organized 
under Col. Charles H. Tompkins, who was efficient in organiz- 
ing the First Battery and consisted of the following batteries : 
Battery A, mustered into service June 6th, Capt. William II. 
Reynolds; Battery B, mustered into service August 13th, Capt. 

Thomas F. Vaughan ; Battery 
C, mustered into service August 
25th, Capt. William B. Weeden ; 
Battery D, mustered into ser- 
vice September 4th, Capt. John 
A. Munroe ; Battery E, mustered 
into service September 30th, 
Capt. George E. Randolph ; 
Battery F, mustered into service 
October 29th, Capt. James Bel- 
ger ; Battery G, mustered into 
service December 21st, Capt. 
Charles D. Owen ; and another 
battery, Battery H, was mustered 
into service Oct. 14, 1862, under 
Capt. Jeffrey Hazard, complet- 
the board of trade BU.LD.NG, in S the regimental organization. 
Market Square. Each of these batteries consisted 

13 





THE HIGH SCHOOL, SUMMER AND POND STREETS. 



of six guns, 
and all were 
recruited at 
Providence, 
though citizens 
from all parts 
of the state 
came to Provi- 
dence to join 
them. 

The First 
Rhode Island 
Cavalry Regi- 
ment, under 
Col. Robert B. 
Lawton, was 
organized in 
the autumn of 
1 861. Its camp 
was establish- 
ed at Paw- 
tucket, where 
it passed the 
winter until, 
March, 1862, it moved to the front before Washington. 

Besides these volunteer organizations, many citizens of Provi- 
dence entered the United States regular army and naval services, 
not only during this but the subsequent years of the war. During 
this and the next two years the main business of Providence 
seemed mostly connected w r ith the war. Not that Providence 
was a camp as during the Revolutionary War, but there was most 
of the time a camp in Providence, and the business connected 
with warlike preparations was most prominent to the public eye. 

While these exciting questions were pending, a dispute which 
had existed since the times of Roger Williams and on which the 
fate of the colony had often seemed to depend, was settled by 
compromise, almost unnoticed by the citizens, so much were they 
occupied by national matters. It was the matter of the eastern 
boundary of the state, which was finally determined as it now 
stands, on a decree of the Supreme Court of the United States 
(to which jurisdiction over the subject matter had been conferred 
by agreement of both parties to the dispute) entered in Decem- 
ber, 1861, to go into effect March 1, 1862. This settlement 
added to Providence County the then town of Pawtucket and that 
of the present East Providence, both of which had before been 
claimed and possessed by Massachusetts. 

In the summer of 1862 it was found that more troops would be 
needed, and further measures were taken to organize regiments. 
One of the first attempts in any Northern state to raise a regiment 
of colored troops was made at Providence, in August, 1862, which 
regiment was to have been the Sixth Rhode Island, but owing to 
jealousies of different kinds arising the organization was not 
completed. 

The Seventh Regiment was organized at Camp Bliss, in South 
Providence, under command of Col. Zenas R. Bliss, and on 
September 10th left for Washington. 

An Eighth Regiment was planned of volunteers for three 
months, but the Ninth and Tenth regiments, both for that period 
of service, having been dispatched before its organization, it was 
deemed that no more short-term soldiers were needed, hence the 
Eighth Regiment was never organized. 

The Ninth Regiment, comprised of emergency men to protect 
Washington for the term of three months, was organized by Col. 
Charles T. Robbins and left Providence in two detachments, the 
second of which departed on May 2S, 1862. 



Digitized by 



Google 



94 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




JAMES Y. SMITH. 
Mayor of Providence from June, 1855, to June, 1857. Governor from 1863 to 1866. 

On the night of May 25th a dispatch was received announcing 
a further special and immediate need of troops to defend Wash- 
ington. At one o'clock, a. m., of the 26th, an order was received 
from Governor Sprague to organize the Tenth Regiment from 
the members of the National Guard of Providence. By seven 
o'clock, p. m., the regiment was reported to the governor as ready 
for duty, and at request of Colonel Shaw, Zenas R. Bliss was 
made its colonel. It was organized as the Tenth Regiment, and 
on the next day started for Washington in the midst of a severe 
storm. At the same time the Tenth Light Battery, for three 
months' service, was recruited under the supervision of Capt. 
Edwin C. Gallup. On reaching Washington it remained nearly 
the whole period of its term of service near Fort Pennsylvania, 
the head-quarters of the Tenth Rhode Island Volunteers. 

The summer of 1862 was the darkest period of the war. The 
movement of the loyal forces against Richmond had recoiled in 
failure, and Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia were threat- 
ened by the advancing armies of the rebels. In September this 
army had crossed the Potomac. Experience had shown the 
United States authorities that three months was too short a term 
of enlistment even for emergency men, and in the month of Sep- 
tember another regiment, the Eleventh, enlisting for a period of 
nine months, was organized by Col. Edwin Metcalf, having their 
camp on the Dexter Training Ground, known as Camp Stevens. 
Two companies were furnished this regiment by Pawtucket and 
Central Falls. The remainder was recruited in Providence. On 
the evening of October 6th this regiment left the city of Provi- 
dence for Washington. 

On the 18th of September, 1862, George H. Browne was com- 
missioned colonel of the Twelfth Regiment (yet to be raised) 
Rhode Island Volunteers. By the 13th of the next month the 
regiment had been organized, raised, equipped, and mustered 
into the United States service, and on the 21st of October it left 
Providence for Washington. 

During this period when the city was occupied almost con- 
tinually with raising troops for the war, the citizens were not 
unmindful of their business interests as well. All sorts of man- 



ufacturing interests were pressed forward, and while on the one 
hand 

" The air was filled with farewells to the living 
And mournings for the dead," 

on the other, the business of the city was never more prosperous 
than at that time. 

In this period horse-cars first made their appearance in Provi- 
dence. The old stage coaches had long passed out of existence 
on the main lines of communication, where railroads had taken 
their places, and on the shorter lines of communication between 
the city and its suburban districts, Pawtucket, Olneyville, Crans- 
ton, Elmwood, and Pawtuxet, which were now rapidly growing 
in population and business, regular and frequent lines of omni- 
buses had been established for years. These last, however, proved 
unequal to the growing demands of business, and the first horse- 
car railroad line was established between Providence and Paw- 
tucket. 

This proved so successful that in the course of a year lines 
were planned and charters obtained to build them to Cranston, 
Olneyville via Broadway, Olneyville via High Street, Elmwood, 
Pawtuxet, and South Main Street. These lines were partly built 
when it was found that some of them bade fair to be successful, 
while others could not reasonably be expected to be so, and it 
was admitted by all that a proper development of a Providence 
horse-railroad system required the building of them all. The 
result of this condition of affairs was the formation of a new 
corporation in 1865, the Union Railroad Company, which united 
in one ownership all these minor lines except the Providence and 
Pawtucket, whereby the strong lines helped the weak ones, thus 
securing to Providence adequate horse-car facilities. The Union 
Railroad Company has since absorbed the Providence and Paw- 
tucket line, and greatly extended its other lines in every direc- 
tion. 

On the thirty-first day of August, 1862, an order was issued 
from the War Department for raising the Second Rhode Island 
Cavalry. It was composed of two battalions, under command 
of Maj. A. W. Corliss. It proceeded to New Orleans and per- 
formed active service in the Department of the Gulf until Jan. 
14, 1864, when the organization was transferred to the Third 
Rhode Island Cavalry. 

In December, 1862, a company of infantry known as the Hos- 
pital Guards was recruited by Col. Christopher Blanding, and 
detailed for guard duty at Portsmouth Grove, where the United 
States government had previously established a hospital desig- 
nated as the "LoveJl General Hospital." This company was 
enlisted under the orders of the War Department, and was com- 
posed of men who had been disabled in the field, but yet were fit 
for garrison duty. 

In the summer of 1S63, a regiment, the Fourteenth Rhode 
Island Volunteers, of 1,800 men — negroes — commanded by 
Lieut.-Col. Nelson Viall, the commissioned officers being all 
white, was organized at Camp Fremont, on the Dexter Training 
Ground. A portion of them were transferred to Dutch Island, 
in Narragansett Bay. 

In July, 1863, a third regiment of Rhode Island Cavalry was 
organized under Col. Willard Sayles, which left for New Orleans 
in December of that year. These and one company of a seventh 
squadron of Rhode Island cavalry, under Maj. Augustus W. Cor- 
liss, consisting of a company recruited from Dartmouth College 
and Norwich University, joined to a company enlisted in Prov- 
idence, raised for three months' service, were all the organ- 
izations raised in Providence for service during the war. 

During the entire war, however, recruiting was actively main- 
tained to keep these organizations full in compensation for the 
losses consequent upon active service. Nor was the sen ice of 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



9* 



Providence in the war confined to the providing of men to go to 
the front. Emulous of the record of the "Daughters of Liberty " 
during the Revolutionary period, the ladies of Providence were 
strenuous in their endeavors to help along the good cause. A 
powerful branch of the National Woman's Sanitary Commission 
was established in Providence, which did much towards supply- 
ing the soldiers in the field and in hospitals with comforts, and a 
soldiers' home was established, mainly by ladies of Providence, 
in 1862, which furnished aid and comfort to many discharged 
soldiers passing through the city to their homes in other states. 

The war dragged its slow length along, — the forces of the 
country, like an anaconda, tightening fold on fold their grasp 
around the dragon of secession, till in April, 1865, Richmond 
fell and secession was crushed. This was accepted as equivalent 
to the successful termination of the war, and the rejoicings over 
it were commensurate with its importance. In the midst of them, 
however, came the baleful news of the assassination of President 
Lincoln, like a lightning stroke from a clear sky. No President 
of the United States, not even Washington, has ever held so 
closely to the hearts of the people as did Abraham Lincoln. 
None of them was ever taken away under such peculiarly tragic 
conditions. When the assassin Booth fired at the beloved Presi- 
dent the shock of his bullet affected the heartstrings of every 
community in the land, and Providence felt it in common with 
the rest of the country. All signs of rejoicing ceased, and in 
twenty-four hours the whole city was draped in a mourning garb, 
which testified to a general sorrow more deep and more sincere 
than has at any other time been felt in our city. While mourn- 
ing the untimely loss of the President, the war was closed, the 
soldiers returned to their homes, and the city devoted itself to the 
arts of peace and repairing the losses of the war. 

When the war closed the currency of the country had depre- 
ciated to between forty and fifty cents on the dollar, yet despite 
this disadvantage and the losses of men and money consequent 
thereon, the course of Providence had been ever onward and 
upward. From the year i860 to that of 1865, its population 
had increased from 50,666 to 54,595, and its valuation from 
$58,131,800 to $80,564,300. 

Immediately upon the close of the war all energies were 
devoted in peaceful directions. The Burnside Rifle Works were 
reorganized as the Rhode Island Locomotive Works. The Provi- 
^^ Z^\ dence Tool Com- 

,^ pany devoted itself 

/ \ mainly to the mak- 

ing of tools and sew- 
ing machines ; and 
the city, instead of 
making its greatest 
expenditures for 
war purposes, ap- 
plied them to edu- 
cational ones in the 
erection of the 
Thayer Street 
Grammar School, 
an elegant and con- 
venient building, on 
the east side of the 
city. A few years 
later the palatial 
Point Street Gram- 
mar School was 
constructed. 

In 1866 the ques- 

THE SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT, - r • *. i • 

tion of introducing 

Exotiange Place. ° 



* 


J Ilk 11 




If 




$m 




THE BUTLER EXCHANGE. 

a supply of water to the city was again raised, and after much 
discussion it was decided to introduce the water of the Pawtuxet 
River. 

In colonial days a hospital for the benefit of those undergoing 
inoculation for the small-pox had existed on the west shore of the 
river in the south part of the town. In later times a United 
States Marine Hospital had been built near it ; but no general 
hospital had ever been erected in Providence, and the absence of 
such a charity was considered as constituting a crying want, and 
rather a disgrace to the city. Realizing this a fund of $500,000 
was raised and the present Rhode Island Hospital built on the 
site of the previous ones. It was dedicated in 1868. It is now 
one of the best organized institutions of its kind in New England. 

It will be recollected that in the early days of its settlement 
Providence included nearly all the present state. That the term 
became restricted first to the mainland west of the bay, then to 
Providence County as then bounded, then as towns in Providence 
County were set off, the meaning of the term was restricted till a 
little before the time of the Revolution it was reduced to a terri- 
tory of less than six square miles. After remaining within this 
restricted area for a century, the city began to grow again in area, 
absorbing back from the towns land that had been previously 
given to them. This process has given to the city at; this time an 
area of fifteen and one-half square miles, and bids fair in the near 
future to give it largely increased limits. The first stage of this 
incrementary growth was passed in 1868 when, on June 10th, 
the populous suburb of Elm wood, a portion of Cranston, to- 
gether with a strip of the town extending to the bay at the south 
of the city, was annexed to the latter, thereby constituting the 
greater part of what is now known as the ninth ward. 

The growth of the city to the west and south was so great that 
a bridge (Point Street Bridge) was deemed necessary from the old 
Cow-pens Point across the river to South Water Street, and was 
finally completed in 1870. This bridge was built with a swing- 
ing draw opening on each side the central pier, giving two clear 
passage ways of 1 20 feet. 

By 1870 the population of Providence had increased to 100,675, 
and its valuation to $93,076,900. 

While Providence was rapidly improving in almost every direc- 



Digitized by 



Google 



9 6 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



tion, its accommodations to the actors and patrons of the theatric 
art had long been unworthy of a country town. Realizing this, 
in June, 1S71, the Providence Opera House Association was 
chartered and organized with a capital of $100,000. The asso- 
ciation immediately began building an edifice on the corner of 
Dorrance, Pine, and Eddy streets, and since its completion, Prov- 
idence has no cause to feel that her theatrical accommodations 
are unworthy of her. 

Besides caring for the widows and orphans of the soldiers and 
sailors who perished during the war of the Rebellion, it was 
early felt that some more enduring monument to their patriotism 
should be placed in the city, and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Mon- 
ument on the west end of Exchange Place, bearing the names of 
all Rhode Island soldiers who perished in the war on its bronze 
tablets, was erected, and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies 
on St. John's Day, Sept. 16, 1871. 

In November, 1871, died Betsey Williams, a lineal descendant 
of Roger, in possession of real estate then in Cranston but now 
in the city, that had been in the possession of the Williams family 
ever since the time of Joseph Williams, son of Roger, who had, 
even previous to the King Philip War, lived in a house near the 
same and probably on the site of the Joseph Williams house, 
which survived till the nth of May, 1886, when it was de- 
molished. This real estate was conveyed by will of Betsey 
Williams to the city for a park, and now constitutes the Roger 
Williams Park. 

Since the decision to introduce the Pawtuxet water, the work 
on this immense project, involving an expense of some five mil- 
lions of dollars, had been pressed forward with ail the rapidity 
consistent with thoroughness in its execution, and on Thanks- 
giving Day, the last Thursday in November, 1871, at noon, the 
water was delivered through a large pipe on the east end of Ex- 
change Place, sending a jet of water through the aperture — the 
mains being three feet in diameter — higher than the adjacent 
buildings. The day was intensely cold, the thermometer stand- 
ing below zero, with a fierce northwest wind. The water froze 
in the air before it fell, and and the streets and bridges to lee- 
ward were soon filled with a mass of sludgy ice, several feet in 
depth. Parties, attempting to cross this treacherous mass, were 
caught in its embrace, and came near freezing to death in the 
presence of the thousands of spectators. Fortunately they were 
all rescued in time to prevent any serious injury, but the exhibi- 
tion was cut short as soon as its danger became apparent. 

The improvement in business structures in the city is well 
shown in the Butler Exchange, erected in 1872. Standing as it 
does, on the north side of Westminster Street, opposite the Ar- 
cade, this building not only shows the highest development of 
that class of structures in 1872, but presents an instructive con- 
trast with the most beautiful production of 1828, as shown in the 
opposite building. 

Further steps were made in March, 1873, in the way of absorb- 
ing additional territory from adjacent towns. The portion of 
Cranston devised by Betsey Williams, as before stated, to the 
city of Providence was added to the ninth ward on the south, 
while the land included in the North Burial Ground and Swan 
Point Cemetery, and not heretofore in the city limits, were added 
to the first ward. In March of the next year, 1S74, Providence 
absorbed the tenth ward from North Providence, and assumed 
its present territorial limits — 15.5 square miles, with 121.70 miles 
of streets. 

The sewerage of Providence had been — since the first crude 
attempts to underdrain the town street, 150 years before — rather 
of a fragmentary nature, than upon a consistent plan embracing 
the necessities of the whole community. When, however, it was 
decided to introduce water, it became evident that some system 



of carrying off surplus and waste water was equally necessary. 
The remainder of Fox Hill, south of the Brook Street district, 
was deemed an obstruction to any proper system embracing the 
sewerage of the east side, and in 1873 the "Brook Street im- 
provement," so called, was entered upon. This improvement 
consisted in the entire removal of the historic Fox Hill, bringing 
it to a grade, and also filling to a grade of a large portion of the 
western bed of the Seekonk River. The " Slate Rock," where 
Roger Williams traditionally first landed, was by this measure 
covered with some twenty feet of made land. 

For the last thirteen years and more the business career of the 
city had been one of unexampled and almost unchecked pros- 
perity. Wise and conservative men had felt grave and anxious 
when the paper money of the country had depreciated to less 
than fifty cents in gold to the dollar, and claimed that a day of 
reckoning must come, when debts would become due in gold 
valuation and assets would shrink from inflated paper valuation 
to the same standard. But that day had been so long delayed 
that these men were laughed at and called croakers by the more 
enthusiastic and younger men of the community. So many new 
enterprises were opened, and so easy was it to obtain money, that 
there was a constant temptation to enlarge business beyond a safe 
limit and to embark in new projects, and many who passed for 
conservative men found themselves, almost without being aware 
of it, carrying more commercial sail than their vessels could stand 
under, even in favorable winds. The great house of A. & W. 
Sprague had especially indulged in this expanding of their inter- 
ests ; with a capital that seemed almost invincible they had not 
been content with the control it gave them, but had increased 
their business and were using millions of borrowed capital, while 
the number and variety of their interests were too great for the 
ordinary mind to appreciate. 

There came a time when capitalists became timid, when loans 
could only be obtained by the payment of interest beyond all pro- 
portion to the legitimate business earnings of money. In 1S73, 
twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen, and even twenty per cent, was 
demanded for loans, and houses that were dealing with borrowed 
capital were compelled to pay it. No resources, however great, 
could long stand this strain, and in October, 1873, even the house 
of the Spragues was obliged to suspend payment. So great were 
their interests, and so involved with banks of deposit, savings 
banks, and manufacturing and real estate interests all over the 
state, as well as largely out of it, that men stood aghast at the 
bare idea of the Spragues failing. Every effort consistent with 
safety was made by the capitalists of the city and state to save 
them, but after a critical examination into their affairs it was 
deemed impossible and it only remained for men to hold hard to 
whatever financial support they could find and let the storm blow 
over, taking their chances of whatever wreck or ruin might come. 
With the downfall of the Spragues came that of scores of lesser 
concerns that were in one way or another dependent upon them, 
while the loss and suffering to the poorer classes who had their 
accumulations of earnings deposited in the savings banks which 
had loaned so largely to the Spragues and associated interests as 
to be wrecked in their ruin, is simply incalculable. Real estate 
in and around Providence sank in value from twenty-five to fifty 
per cent., and in many cases even more. The Spragues them- 
selves made an assignment for the benefit of their creditors with 
a showing on paper of nineteen millions of dollars in assets 
against eleven millions of dollars in liabilities. The assignee, Mr. 
Zechariah Chafee, called in the debts, issued new notes known 
as Sprague paper, for the amount of debts, and attempted to 
carry on the paying business of the firm and with its earnings, 
aided by the conversion of their other assets into money, pay the 
indebtedness. A series of poor business years prevented the 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



97 



assignee from being able to pay even the interest on the Sprague 
paper. The creditors became impatient, claimed that the as- 
signee was not making proper use of the firm's estate, carried 
the matter into the courts, and for years the determining of 
Sprague suits became a main business of our higher courts. 
The general drift of the decisions was to sustain Mr. Chafee, but 
the estate was, amidst this contest, rapidly wasting away. The 
matter is not finally settled yet, but the nominal estate of nineteen 



widened out over the river to their present appearance as shown 
in the frontispiece. This improvement cost $59*390 ; and in 1S76 
the Doyle Avenue Grammar School was erected at a cost of 
$53,000 for the building alone. Again in 1877 two new gram- 
mar schools — the Oxford Street and the Candace Street — were 
erected at a combined cost for buildings alone of $90,000, and 
during these two years the city was building the new City Hall, 
finished and dedicated in 187S at a cost of $1,000,000, and the 




PROSPECT TERRACE, CONGDON STREET. 



millions has dwindled to the actual realization of less than two. 
The creditors have received no interest on the Sprague paper for 
years, and have received on account of the body of the indebted- 
ness about twenty per cent., with small chance of getting any more. 

It is a sad chapter in our financial history, and it is to be hoped 
that Providence may never see another such. The depositors in 
the savings banks involved have lost the interest on their deposits 
for years ; have received dividends varying in amounts from 
twenty-five to eighty-five per cent, of their principal, and have a 
faint chance of ultimately receiving the balance of such principal. 

Probably no other city in the country of its size could have 
endured such a disaster without a lasting check to its develop- 
ment. As it was, and owing to the fact that for the first two 
years after the failure the people generally had faith that the 
Sprague paper would be paid in full and it could be sold at 
varying rates of discount, thus giving time to prepare for the loss 
and prevent its coming all at one blow, the general development 
of the city was not permanently retarded ; yet we find that the 
valuation of the city sank from 1874, when general faith in the 
Sprague paper prevailed, of $123,682,800, to 1S79, when faith 
in it had been generally lost, of $115,581,700; and not until last 
year was the valuation of the city greater than in 1874. 

In spite of these disasters the city kept on its course of devel- 
opment, and in 1875 the Weybossct Bridge was widened, the 
Crawford Street Bridge built, and the streets between the two 



new High School at a cost of $160,000. When the new City 
Hall was completed the old Market building on Market Square 
was given up so far as municipal uses were concerned, and 
shortly after rented to the Board of Trade. With the transfer of 
the High School to the new building the old High School build- 
ing on the east side being no longer needed for school purposes 
by the city, was occupied by the State Normal School. 

The rise of libraries of a public nature in Providence has been 
noted, but more recent times have developed a new basis for 
literary collections. A library was formerly esteemed only as a 
combination of capital and common ownership of the works it 
contained. It is now considered by many the duty of every 
prosperous municipality to provide a free public library for its 
citizens. The experiment had been tried in many cities and with 
unvarying success, but Providence, probably owing to the excel- 
lence of her libraries and the ease of access to them, was slow 
to adopt a free public library. After long discussion the Mechan- 
ics' and Manufacturers' Association in 1S75 donated their library 
and sufficient money to bring the value to $10,000 to the city in 
trust for the uses of a free public library. This formed a nucleus, 
and agglomerations attached themselves to it, till in 1878 the city 
was able to open the free public library. 

Besides these improvements by the city, the state erected in 
1877 the present County Court House on the site of the old 
Town House, corner of College and Benefit streets. And at last, 



Digitized by 



Google 



98 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



in 1879, after nearly two centuries, and fifty-two years after the 
first resolution to that effect was introduced into the town council, 
a monument was erected to Roger Williams. 

By the year 1880 the population of Providence had grown to 
104,857 ; its valuation was $115,921,000, and the annual expense 
of carrying on the government was $1,626,825.20. The number 
of miles of graded and curbed streets was 135. These figures 
would certainly have startled Roger Williams could some prophet 
have foretold them to him. 

The want of means for speedy communication of late years 
had led largely to the introduction on private lines of various 
telegraph systems where the letters could be printed and read off 
as the message was spelled out instead of the Morse system ; but 
the introduction of the telephone, being so much more convenient, 
in 1881, superseded all these devices. A still further use of elec- 
tricity for lighting purposes was introduced in 1882, and in 1883 
Westminster Street was lighted by this agent. Its use has in- 
creased since. 

The northern boundary of Providence Plantations had never 
been definitely settled. Independent of the Claims of Plymouth 
and Massachusetts of the whole of Providence, it is an indisput- 
able fact that in early colonial days the town of Mendon, in Mas- 
sachusetts, claimed and exercised jurisdiction as far south as the 
Branch River, and in later days there were always two different 
lines claimed by the two states, and a provisional or jurisdictional 
line between them settled upon to serve the purpose of a boundary 
till the true one could be agreed upon. March 22, 1883, a line 
was definitely and finally agreed upon, and then for the first time 
in its history the inhabitants of Providence Plantations knew the 
boundaries of their territory. The boundary line of the State of 
Rhode Island is not even yet entirely settled. There is a tract of 
country between Westerly and the Long Island Sound which may 
be called " no man's land" or " no state's land." It is claimed by 
both Connecticut and Rhode Island, but neither state dares exer- 
cise jurisdiction over it for fear it will be decided to belong to 
the other. 

We have shown how in 1846 and later the old Cove lines were 
filled in and restricted mainly in the interests of the railroads. 
We have also shown how in times past the existence of the 
ancient Cove has saved the town of Providence from the fearful 
damage liable to result from floods on the Woonasquatucket and 
Moshassuck, and southerly tempests acting on the bay. Within 
the last few years the main question agitating the public mind 
has been one in regard to the Cove and the railroads terminating 
in Providence. When the arrangements were made for filling 
up in part the old Cove it was deemed that such arrangement 
would give all the space needed for railroad purposes for all time. 
Our fathers little appreciated the extent to which the railroad 
interests would be extended. Of late years the roads centering 
in Providence have been so choked with freight that they have 
been obliged to use large yards distant from their freight depots 
to store the loaded cars till the previously received cars could be 
unloaded. This arrangement causes much vexatious delay. More 
space is imperatively necessary ; but where to obtain it is the 
question on which the people are divided. One class of people 
advocates the filling up the Cove basin and using that space for 
railroad purposes, at the same time carrying the passenger trains 
through the city on an elevated track with passage-ways under it 
for roads. To this it is objected that the Cove basin and sur- 
rounding park is of great use to the city in a utilitarian sense and 
as an ornament, and if converted into land could never be so use- 
ful to the city as now. Second, that the region back of Smith's 
Hill is largely cut off now from ready and safe communication 
with the centre of the city and that it would be still more so were 
this space filled with railroad tracks and moving cars. The 
elevated track project is strongly opposed by these objectors, they 



denominating it a Chinese Wall to shut them out from the heart 
of the city. 

Another plan is to bring all railroads from the north round 
west of Smith's Hill, tunneling or cutting where necessary, and 
having a depot in the Woonasquatucket Valley. This would give 
ample room and would leave the Cove basin and park as now, 
and also relieve the Smith's Hill people of the isolation to which 
they are now subjected. To this it is objected that the proposed 
depot site is too distant from the city centre, that the proposed new 
route of entrance is too costly for the railroads to adopt it, and that 
having at great expense secured a plant where they are located, 
they will not give it up without an adequate consideration. 

A third plan is to carry the railroads round to the north of the 
Cove basin and promenade, close under Smith's Hill, so that 
streets coming down from Smith's Hill can bridge over the tracks 
without disturbing the grade, and placing a union passenger 
depot west of the Cove promenade, and giving, like the second 
plan, the whole of the Woonasquatucket Valley, if needed, to 
the railroads for freight purposes. To this many of the same 
objections are made as to the second described plan. Numerous 
other plans have been projected in the hope of combining all the 
people upon some compromise plan, but the three plans outlined 
contain all the essential features of the matter, and it would seem 
as if one of the three or a modification thereof must be adopted. 
As a matter of fact the discussion has been going on for thirteen 
years, for the last three of them in an almost bitter manner, and 
the people and the railroads are as far from an agreement upon 
it as ever. It is an open question for the citizens to decide, on 
the proper decision of which depends in large measure the future 
welfare of the city. 

In 1883 another grammar school building was erected, at a 
cost of $50,000. It was located on Vineyard Street, in Elmwood. 

There having been for some years a feeling that a hospital 
where the homoeopathic practice should be followed, was needed 
in this community, funds had been raised, a house and grounds 
on Olney Street purchased, and the hospital was dedicated in 
the year 1885. 

By the census taken in 1885 it was found that the civilized 
inhabitants of Providence had grown from u we six in a canoe " 
in 1636, to 118,070; instead of one main street running one mile 
over the unprotected surface of the earth, as in the first years of 
the town, we have 152.37 miles of graded and paved or metaled 
streets with about one hundred and thirty miles of platted streets 
that have not been accepted by the city. Instead of meeting in 
the groves for worship, the congregations of our citizens gather 
in church edifices of which any people might well be proud. In- 
stead of the governmental head-quarters of the place being in a 
private residence, we house our ofticers when performing official 
duties in our City Hall. The reflection on these and similar facts 
led to an awakening of special interest in the two hundred and 
fiftieth anniversary of Roger Williams' coming, and it was de- 
cided to commemorate that event on the 23d and 24th of June, 
1886, in a manner worthy of both the event and the celebrants. 
The state joined with the city in doing honor to the occasion. In 
these arrangements no one took a greater interest than Mayor 
Thomas A. Doyle. He had been mayor of the city most of the 
time for twenty years past. Unfortunately he was stricken down 
by paralysis, and his life closed on June 9th, 1886. 

Before entering upon the description of the Providence of to- 
day, it may be well to take a summary view of the growth of the 
plantations from 1636 to the present day, both in matters of pop- 
ulation and in business. 

For the first one hundred years the increase of population of 
the plantations was larger outside than within the limits of the 
present city of Providence. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



99 



In the second century the increase was gradually reduced to 
more nearly the same proportions, while it was only within the 
last thirty-six years that the population of the present city out- 
grew that of the rest of the " plantations," using the latter term 
as it has been used for nearly two hundred years to designate 
Providence County without the additions from what was origi- 
nally esteemed part of other states or colonies. 

In the following table may be seen the growth of Providence 
Plantations in population, both before and after the set-off of 
other towns from the town of Providence. "Providence Planta- 
tions," as therein set down, represents the whole of the present 
county except additions from Massachusetts as above. Scituate 
and Glocester being the earliest towns set off, their progress has 
been noted as showing relatively the advance in population of 
the city and those towns. 

It will be noted that for a period of years, 1755 to 1765, the 
population of those two towns combined was greater than that 
of the town of Providence, though the town of Providence then 
included much more than its present area, but after the era of 
manufacturing progress set in, the growth of the town, and later 
the city of Providence, has been continual, till now the city con- 
tains over 118,070 inhabitants, while the outside towns of the 
original plantations contain but 64,169. 

Population of Providence Plantations. 

1636. Roger Williams and the " first comers " (probably not more 
than 50 or 60 souls). 

1644. 101 Fighting men (probably about 500 souls). 

1676. At the time of King Philip's War 28 are recorded as '* men 
who staid and went not away," others are known to have 
stayed, and the probable population in March, 1676, was 
about 33 males. 

1 70S. The total population was, (less than half living in the pres- 
ent limits of Providence City), 1.446 

1730. (Less than half living in the present limits of the city), . 3,916 

1748. Providence Plantations, 6,337 

Town of Providence,* 3»45 2 

Towns of Glocester, Scituate, and Smithfield having been 
set off since last census. Towns outside town of Provi- 
dence, 2,885 

Of these latter, Scituate, 1,232 

Glocester, 1 ,202 — 2,434 

1755. Providence Plantations, 9,864 

Town of Providence, 3» x 59 

Town of Cranston having been set off since last cen- 
sus. Towns outside town of Providence, . . . 6,705 

Scituate, 1,813 
Of these, G i ocester) 1,511—3,324 

1774. Providence Plantations, x 7»477 

Town of Providence, 4»3 21 

Johnston and North Providence having been set off since 

last census. Towns outside town of Providence, . 13,156 

Scituate, 3,601 
Uf lhese ' Glocester, 2,945 —6,546 

1776. Providence Plantations, 16,793 

Towns of Providence, 4»355 

Towns outside town Providence, 12,438 

Of these, Situate, 3-289 

Glocester, 2,832 — 6,121 

1782. Providence Plantations, 16,992 

Town of Providence, 4»3i2 

Towns outside town of Providence, .... 12,680 

Foster having been set off from Scituate since last census. 

Of these, Scituate ' ! ' 628 

Glocester, 2,791 — 4,419 

1790. Providence Plantations, 22,427 

Town of Providence, 6,380 

Towns outside town of Providence, .... 16,047 
Of these Scituate, 2,315 

Glocester, 4,025 — 6,340 

1800. Providence Plantations, 23,79s 

Town of Providence, 7»6i4 

Towns outside town of Providence, .... 16,184 




THE STATE HOUSE, NORTH MAIN STREET. 

Of these, Scituate ' 2 '5 2 3 £ 

Glocester, 4,009 — 6,532 

1810. Providence Plantations, 28,659 

Town of Providence, 10,171 

Towns outside town of Providence, .... 18,58s 

Burrillville having been set off from Glocester 6ince last 

census. 

Of these, !° ituate ' 2 * ( * oc 
Glocester, 2,310 — 4,878 

1820. Providence Plantations, 33»°83 

Town of Providence, 11,767 

Towns outside town of Providence, . . . . 21,316 

Of these, ^ ituate ' 2 > S " 

Glocester, 2,504 — 5,338 

1830. Providence Plantations, 43*345 

Town of Providence, 16,836 

Towns outside town of Providence, .... 26,509 

Of these, Scit^te, 3 .993 

Glocester, 2,521 — 6,514 

1840. Providence Plantations, 52,848 

City of Providence, 23,172 

Towns of Providence Plantations, 29,676 

Of these, Situate, 4,090 

Glocester, 2 ,304 — 6,394 

1850. Providence Plantations, . 80,865 

City of Providence, 41.513 

Towns of Providence Plantations, 39»35 2 

Of these, ?f uate ' 4.582 

Glocester, 2 ,872 — 7 ,454 

i860. Providence Plantations, 99i46o 

City of Providence, 50,686 

Towns of Providence Plantations, 4^,774 

_ r Scituate, 4,251 

Of these, „. A , , 

Glocester, 2,427 — 6,678 

1870. Providence Plantations, 124,494 

Additions from Cranston and North Providence to the city 

since last census. 

City of Providence, 68,904 

Towns of Providence Plantations, 55*59° 

nn . Scituate, 3,846 

Of these, ~. , 

Glocester, 2,385 — 6,231 

1880. Providence Plantations, >43'9 X 7 

City of Providence, (additions from Cranston and North 

Providence since last census,) 104,857 

Towns of Providence Plantations, 39>°6° 

Scituate, 3,810 
Of these, Glocegterj 2aS o — 6,060 

1885. Providence Plantations, 182,239 

City of Providence, 118,070 

Towns of Providence Plantations, 64,169 

Scituate, 3,606 
Ut these, GloceRtcr| ,, 922 __ 5 , 52 8 



Digitized by 



Google 



IOO 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



The population in 1885 of Providence County as now consti- 
tuted is 220,606, there being a population of 38,367 resident on 
portions of the county that were won from Massachusetts during 
the long struggle over the eastern frontier line. 

The business growth of the plantations is not so easily meas- 
ured. The first occupations of the colonists were almost entirely 
agricultural, and Roger Williams himself seems to have been the 
only one of the u first comers" who might have been properly 
called a trader. His trading operations were mostly with the 
Indians, having his head-quarters at Wickford. Thirty years later, 
his sons, Providence and Joseph Williams, seem to have adopted 
this business which Roger had been obliged to give up, owing to 
other engrossing cares. Pardon Tillinghast and Gideon Craw- 
ford, at the close of the seventeenth and beginning of the 
eighteenth centuries, seem to have been among the first to carry 
on business transactions with foreign countries, mainly with the 
West India Islands and also with the North American British 
colonies. It was not till the days of James and Obadiah Brown, 
1730, and later, that the trading operations of Providence mer- 
chants became extensive, and stores in the settlement became 
common. These stores were generally on the lower floor of the 
residences of the dealers, or in the case of the more extensive 
ones, in the lower story of their warehouses. Manufacturing was 
confined mainly to lumber, with a few iron-working establish- 
ments. One of the earliest enlargements of the sphere of man- 
ufacturing was the introduction of the distillation of New Eng- 
land rum from West India molasses. This was a very extensive 
business in and for its day, but has passed entirely away within 
the last generation. Brewing was also carried on to a limited 
extent ; this business has been lately revived on a large scale. 
Another early branch of manufacturing was the manufacture or 
extraction of spermaceti, which after furnishing much wealth to 
the citizens, has passed entirely away from the plantations. Tan- 
ning was also extensively carried on in the early days of the 
colony, but all these varied branches of industry were carried on 
on a limited scale, and there is an absence of available data to 
enable us to determine their extent. One other course of trade 
was entered into in which the citizens of to-day will take little 
pride, and that was the slave-trade ; but few slaves were brought 
here, the most of them being carried to the West Indies and 
exchanged for molasses, "the latter being brought here to be dis- 
tilled into rum, which was taken to Africa and bartered for 
negroes to be taken to the West Indies, thus making the round 
trip." During the Revolutionary War, when all other occupations 
except privateering seemed paralyzed, it was said of Providence 
by an irrf^artiar* observer that distilling and the slave-trade con- 
stituted the main business of the town. Fortunately, the state of 
society that permitted such a condition of affairs has passed away. 

After the close of the Revolutionary War there was a rapid 
revival of commerce, so much so that in 1791 there was a greater 
number of vessels belonging to this port than to New York, being 
1 10 sail of 10,590 tons burthen, exclusive of river packets, boats, 
and shallops. In that year the amount of duties on merchandise 
received here was $23,647, and the growth of business is shown 
by the fact that by 1801 the amount of duties increased to $290,- 

3° 2 -3 8 - 

For the ten years ending Jan. 1, 1810, the amount of duties 

averaged $278,474 

For the ten years ending Jan. 1, 1820, the amount of duties 

averaged 215,542 

For the ten years ending Jan. 1, 1830, the amount of duties 

averaged 220,243 

Since that time it had largely fallen off, getting as low as $19,- 
043.75 in 1849. Since then it has revived, and by 1870 it had 
again risen to $232,905.15. The cause of this falling off was not 
a decrease in the amount of business done, but a change of the 
nature of the business. Instead of foreign commerce the shipping 



coming to the port were engaged in domestic commerce, and the 
amount of commercial business transacted in our harbor to-day is 
simply astounding when compared with that of eighty years ago. 
Coal, iron, moulding-sand, and cotton, articles that were then not 
known as matters of trade, or only brought in lots of a few tons 
each, are now brought in quantities that aggregate millions of 
tons. More lumber is brought here annually than would have 
then sufficed to build the town and a like increase may be noted in 
many other commodities. 

With this advance in the marine business of the town has come 
a far greater one in its manufacturing interests. At the time of 
the Revolutionary War the making of textile fabrics was un- 
known, except as a domestic matter, producing home-spun goods. 

In 18 1 5 there were, within thirty miles of Providence, 140 man- 
ufactories containing more than 140,000 spindles spinning 29,000 
bales of cotton, producing 27,840,000 yards of cloth, annually. 

In i860 there were in Providence County 113 manufactories, 
employing 11,431 hands, paying them $2,405,138, and producing 
$11,506,855 worth of finished goods. 

In 1870 there were 130 manufactories, employing i7>°55 hands, 
paying $5,754,740, in wages and producing $26,084,219 worth 
of finished goods. 

In 1880 there were 115 manufactories, employing 18,642 hands, 
paying them in wages $5*045,397, and producing $23,788,076 
worth of finished goods. 

In iron and steel industries but a few thousand dollars' worth 
were annually made at the time of the Revolutionary War. By 
the year 1S60 there were in Providence County 60 establishments 
in those industries, employing 3,203 employes, paying for wages 
$1,308,336, and producing $4,056,394 worth of goods annually. 
In 1880 there were n 1 establishments, with 6,586 employes, 
paying in wages $2,719,700, and producing $9,137*689 worth of 
finished goods. 

In the same period the woolen industries had grown to employ 
175,644 spindles, and produce annually $15,410,450 worth of 
goods. 

In the manufactory of the precious metals there were in the 
town of Providence, in 1805, 30 establishments, producing $40,- 
000 worth of goods; in 1S15, 175 establishments, producing 
$350,000 worth of goods; in 1880, 161 establishments, producing 
$8,148,380 worth of goods. 

Providence Plantations in lieu of the unbroken wilderness 
found by Roger Williams in 1636, has developed in this 250 
years into one of the most populous districts on the face of the 
globe. Only by taking portions of the greatest cities of the earth 
and their suburbs can an area of equal extent with an equal pop- 
ulation be found. It possesses the greatest amount of wealth 
divided the most equally among the largest number of inhabitants 
of any territory of equal extent in the world. 

From its earliest foundation, basing its social organization on 
the primal idea of perfect freedom of conscience to all its citizens, 
to the present time, it has always been found favoring the advance- 
ment of principles that tend to the enlargement of the sum total 
of human happiness. In patriotism it has never been found want- 
ing. In the development, by proper means, of a " democratical " 
form of government, it has ever been foremost. The so-called 
"New England system of town governments," which has been 
declared to be the most perfect political system ever originated, 
found its first exemplar, free from the embarrassments of religious 
complication, here. While the tendency of its citizens has been 
to perfect the development of popular right and power, they have 
yet been strictly conservative — " proving all things : holding fast 
to that which is good " — and if, in some respects, they seem 
now behind the hurried movement of some parts of our common 
nation, it is only that they may make sure that the change is 
" good " before adopting it. 



Digitized by 



Google 



PART SECOND. 



Chapter 1. 



THE CITY GOVERNMENT OF PROVIDENCE. 



FIRST TOWN-MEETINGS — PLACES OF HOLDING THEM — THE CITY HALL — TERMS OF SERVICE OF OFFICIALS — DUTIES OF THE 

MAYORS — PAST MAYORS — SKETCHES OF LIVES OF THE MAYORS — PRESIDENTS OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN CITY 

CLERKS — PRESIDENTS AND CLERKS OF THE COMMON COUNCIL — CITY TREASURERS SURVEYORS OF HIGHWAYS — HIGH- 
WAY COMMISSIONERS — WATER COMMISSIONERS — CITY AUDITORS — CITY SOLICITORS — JUDGES AND CLERKS OF MUNICIPAL 
COURT — SUPERINTENDENTS OF LIGHTS — INSPECTORS OF BUILDINGS — FIRE MARSHALS — PUBLIC ADMINISTRATORS — JUS- 
TICES OF THE POLICE COURT — CITY SERGEANTS — CITY MESSENGERS — OVERSEERS OF THE POOR — BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS 
— CITY ENGINEERS — COLLECTORS OF TAXES — CITY REGISTRARS — SUPERINTENDENTS OF HEALTH — CHIEFS OF THE FIRE 
DEPARTMENT. 

town council meetings and town-meetings, when they could be 
accommodated, were held in the taverns, at first principally in 
that of John Whipple, on the east side of North Main Street, 
partway up Constitution Hill, and later in Turpin's Tavern, near 
the present corner of Hewes and North Main Street. In 173 1-2 
the first Town and County House was built on Jail Lane, now 
Meeting Street, next east of the present Friends' Meeting-house 
lot. While it was in process of building the town-meeting was 
held in the Friends' Meeting-house adjoining. The town-meet- 
ings and town council meetings were held in this building until its 
destruction by fire in 1758. The present State House, on Benefit 
Street, was built for the same purposes, and town-meetings were 
held there for many years. The town Market building was 
erected in 1773, and town council meetings were held in the 
upper chambers of the same. In 1795 the First Congregational 
Meeting-house, at the corner of College and Benefit streets, was 
purchased by the town for a Town House, and the town-meetings 
were there held, while the meetings of the town council and the 
office of the town clerk were maintained in the town Market 
building. Town-meetings were held in the old Town House 
until the incorporation of the city government. When the need 
of space for the city government became greater, the use of the 
city (town) Market building was given up as a market and the 
whole building devoted to purposes of the municipal government. 

With the increasing needs of the growing city, this building 
was found to be insufficient, and many departments of the govern- 
ment were located in offices in other buildings near by, till, in 
1876 it was decided to erect the present City Hall. 

The corner-stone of the new City Hall was laid June 24, 1875, 
by the Masonic fraternity of the state with impressive ceremonies, 
attended by the mayor, city council, and other city and state 
officials, and a vast company of citizens. It was dedicated on 
Thursday, Nov. 14, 1878, by the city authorities, to its future offi- 
cial uses with appropriate exercises, and with an able and eloquent 
oration by the Hon. Abraham Payne. The hall is built of cut 
granite, four stories high, with the main entrance fronting upon 
Exchange Place, and occupies the entire square bounded by Dor- 
rance, Washington, Eddy, and Fulton streets, entirely surrounded 
with a massive sidewalk of thick granite blocks from five to six 
feet wide and eighteen to twenty feet long. Externally the hall 
presents a plain but imposing front ; and the very attractive and 
effective view from Exchange Place excites the interest and ad- 
miration of all beholders. The basement, with doors on each 




THOMAS A. DOYLE, 
For Eighteen Years Mayor of Providence. 

The first town-meetings in Providence were held in the open 
air in pleasant weather, often " under a tree by the water side, 
before Thomas Field's house." In inclement weather they were 
held in private houses, usually, it is believed, in the house of Roger 
Williams, supposed to have been one of the largest in town. In 
the earliest days a town clerk was appointed at each meeting. 
When, later, a more permanent town clerk was chosen, the meet- 
ings of the town council were commonly held at the house of the 
town clerk. 

Towards the close of the seventeenth century, and later, the 

14 



Digitized by 



Google 



102 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




SAMUEL W. BRIOGHAM, 
First Mayor of Providence. From June, 1832, to December, 1840. 

side, is occupied by the police department, superintendent of 
health, superintendent of public schools, board of public works, 
and sealer of weights and measures, the sub-basement, of same 
size, containing the four fifty-horse power steam boilers, for heat- 
ing the building and shops of the water department and the 
elevator machinery. 

On the first or main floor are the offices of the mayor, city treas- 
urer, tax assessors, recorder of deeds, city auditor, city messenger, 
and the reception-room. The two chambers of the board of 
aldermen and common council occupy the entire front of the 
second floor, overlooking Exchange Place, with the rooms of the 
city clerk, city solicitor, municipal court, and various committee- 
rooms on the same floor. The city engineer department, super- 
intendent of lights, superintendent of public buildings, and com- 
mittee on claims, occupy all the rooms on the third floor. On the 
fourth floor is a suite of four rooms fitted and furnished as a tene- 
ment and residence for the janitor of the hall, the other rooms on 
that floor being used for storage ; above this, next to the roof, is 
the battery-room that operates the electric fire alarm bells and 
electric clocks. Still higher a circular stairway leads to the sum- 
mit of the great dome, more than one hundred feet above the 
street, from which there is a grand and inspiring view of the whole 
city and suburbs, the harbor, and upper Narragansett Bay. The 
entire building is furnished with every comfort and convenience 
for its official inmates and all that visit them, for the efficient and 
economical transaction of municipal business in all departments. 

The commissioners under whose authority and directions the 
City Hall was constructed were as follows : commissioners from 
1874 to 1876, James Y. Smith, George H. Corliss, William G. 
R. Mowry ; from 1876 to 187S, William G. R. Mowry, Henry 
G. Russell, William M. Bailey. 

The cost of the City Hall, with furniture, exclusive of the land, 
amounted to $1 ,066,987.80. The assessed valuation of the same, 
including the land, amounts to $1,129,560. 

The term of office of city officials was formerly from June to 
June. In 1873, the term was extended to January, and since 
then from January to January has been the official term. 



The mayor of the city by authority of the charter, is made its 
chief executive magistrate, and ex officio a justice of the peace, 
with all the powers of sheriffs and other officers to suppress all 
riotous assemblies and preserve the peace and good order of the 
city, with power to commit any disorderly person to prison for 
twenty-four hours ; he is also empowered to enter any building 
reasonably supposed to be inhabited or occupied by dissolute or 
disorderly persons, and to disperse or arrest and imprison all such 
persons for forty-eight hours, if, in his opinion, the good order and 
peace of the city require it, and for this purpose he can command 
the aid of every other officer and citizen. He is required to in- 
spect the conduct of all city officers and cause their prosecution 
and punishment for all violations of duty ; he has power to call 
meetings of the board of aldermen and common council, or of 
either branch, although one of them or both of them may have 
been adjourned to a more distant day, and at times shall com- 
municate to either of them such information and recommend such 
measures as the interests and business of the city may in his 
opinion require ; he is the presiding officer in the board of alder- 
men, and in the joint meetings of the two boards, but has only a 
casting vote, and the general duties and demands of his office 
require the mayor of the city to be active and vigilent in causing 
all the laws to be executed and enforced to effectually preserve its 
peace and good order. The salary of the mayor was fixed by the 
charter for the first year, 1832, at the sum of $1,000 per annum 
and no more, his salary afterwards, to be fixed by the city council 
in the month of March, yearly, payable at stated periods, with no 
other emolument, the charter providing further that no regu- 
lation to diminish or increase the compensation of mayor shall 
take effect during his term of office. Since that time, however, 
with the growth of the city and the largely increased official duties 
and responsibilities of the mayor, the salary has been increased 
several times until it now is $3,300 per annum. The mayors 
of Providence have been : 

Samuel W. Bridgham, from June, 1832, to Dec. 31, 1840, who 
died in office. 

Thomas M. Burgess, from Feb. 2, 1841, to June, 1852. 

Amos C. Barstow, from June, 1852, to June, 1853. 

Walter K. Danforth, from June, 1853, to June, 1854. 

Edward P. Knowles, from June, 1854, to June, 1855. 

James Y. Smith, from June, 1855, to June 29, 1857. 

William M. Rodman, from June 29, 1857, *° J une > x ^59' 

Jabez C. Knight, from June, 1859, to J une > 1864. 

Thomas A. Doyle, from June, 1864, to June, 1869. 

George L. Clarke, from June, 1S69, to June, 1870. 

Thomas A. Doyle, from June, 1870, to January, 1881. 

William S. Hayward, from January, 1881, to January, 1S84. 

Thomas A. Doyle, from January, 1884, who died in office 
June 9, 1886. 

Gilbert F. Robbins, by virtue of his office as president of the 
board of alderman, became acting mayor upon the death of 
Thomas A. Doyle, for the unexpired municipal term. 

The Hon. Samuel William Bridgham, the first mayor of 
the city, was born in Providence in 1774. He was educated at 
Brown University, where he graduated at the age of twenty. 
Two years later he was admitted to the bar. He became a 
member of the General Assembly, and was Speaker of the 
House from May to October, 1826. For four years, 1814-18, 
he was attorney-general of the state. 

He was elected trustee of Brown University in 1821, and chan- 
cellor in 1828, both of which offices he filled until his death, 
December, 1840. 

When Providence became a city, in 1832, he was chosen its 
first mayor, and to this office he was reelected eight years in suc- 
cession. Mr. Bridgham stood high in the estimation of his fel- 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



IO-: 



low-citizens, and ranked well in his chosen profession. In his 
long period of public service as first mayor of the city he laid 
well the foundations for a good municipal government. 

The Hon. Thomas Mackie Burgess, the second mayor of 
Providence, was elected to that office as the successor of S. W. 
Bridgham, in February, 1841, and filled the office by annual re- 
election until 1852. Mr. Burgess was born in Providence, June 6, 
1806, and graduated at Brown University in 1822. He spent a 
time in the study of law, but finally turned his attention to mer- 
cantile pursuits, in which he was successful. 

His term of office covered the period of the u Dorr War," in- 
volving grave responsibilities. He encountered much opposition 
to his progressive measures while mayor. He was subsequently 
chosen president of the Providence & Boston Railroad Company, 
which office he filled several years. He died Oct. 17, 1856. 

Amos C. Barstow was born in the city of Providence on April 
30, 1813, and is a descendant of William Barstow, who was the 
first settler of what is now Hanover, Mass., formerly part of Scit- 
uate. He enjoyed the benefit of Providence public schools, and 
three terms in Luther Ainsworth's private school. He began com- 
merce at an early age, and has been extensively engaged in differ- 
ent branches of business, particularly the manufacture of stoves 
and other branches of iron castings. He was the builder of 
Roger Williams Hall, and later, of Music Hall. Mr. Barstow 
has been director of several banks in the city, and for several 
years president of the City Bank. It was largely through his 
influence and means that the Mechanics Savings Bank was estab- 
lished. Mr. Barstow has several times been elected to positions 
of public trust. He was the candidate of the Temperance party 
for mayor in 1847, but failed of an election. In 1851 he was 
elected to the General Assembly of Rhode Island, and the same 
year was made chairman of a committee to whom was referred 
important temperance movements. His speech on the Maine 





AMOS C BARSTOW, 
Mayor from June, 1852, to June, 1853. 



THOMAS M. BURGESS, 
Mayor from February, 1841, to June, 1852. 

Law, delivered in the House of Representatives, Jan. 27, 1852, 
was well received and had great influence. 

In 1S52 he was elected mayor of Providence. Several times 
Mr. Barstow has been elected to the General Assembly by the 
Republican party, and in 1870 he was Speaker of the House. 
Mr. Barstow recommended the site for the City Hall and was 
chairman of a committee to purchase the same, and also of the 
committee which submitted plans for the City Hall. 

Mr. Barstow has occupied many positions of public trust. He 
was one of the Rhode Island delegates to the Southern Loyalist 
Convention, held in Philadelphia, Sept. 12, 1866, and the report 
of that body was given by him. He was one of the com- 
missioners for building a bridge and foundation for a market 
building across Providence River. Mr. Barstow has been a 
trustee of the Dexter Donation Fund, also of the Rhode Island 
Hospital Trust Company, and president of the Butler Hospital 
for the Insane. 

He was the first president of the Providence Young Men's 
Christian Association. He has been president of the Providence 
Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers, and of the Rhode 
Island State Temperance Union. His influence has been wide 
and positive in all moral and religious reforms. Mr. Barstow 
became a member of the Beneficent Congregational Church in 
1832. In 1834 ne helped to form the High Street Congregational 
Church, and later was made one of its deacons. For twenty-six 
years he superintended the Sabbath School of this church. On 
the union of the High Street with the Richmond Street Church 
he became a member and officer of the Union Congregational 
Church, and in 1872 was made deacon of the same. Several 
terms he has served as president of the Congregational Club. 
Mr. Barstow is still leading an active life, business and social. 

Walter R. Danforth was born in Providence, April 1, 
1787, and graduated from Brown University in 1805. He devoted 
himself to the study of law, and for eleven years (1807-' 18) 



Digitized by 



Google 



io4 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



was most of the time clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for 
the County of Providence, in the Court of Common Pleas. In 
1820 he became editor and joint proprietor of the Providence 
Gazette, in the management of which he showed great ability 
and tact, as also in the management of the Microcosm, the 
Express, and the Republican Herald, the successors of the 
Gazette. . For ten years he was a member of the town council 
of Providence. He was mayor of the city during the year 1853. 

Mr. Danforth was a faithful and efficient public officer, a highly 
respected citizen, and a vigorous and polished writer. He died 
at his home in Providence, Aug. 11, 1861. 

Edward P. KNOWLESwas born in Providence, April 13, 1805. 
His school privileges were limited, but by industry he pushed hi6 
way forward to prominence and public esteem. He engaged in 
various business enterprises, and became active in military, civil, 
and political affairs. He was a member of the common council 
of Providence from 1835 to 1841 ; alderman from 1841 to 1854, 
and was repeatedly chosen acting mayor. He was finally elected 
mayor in 1854. He to °k an active part in suppressing the Dorr 
Rebellion. He was many years a member of the school com- 
mittee, and it was he who first interested the authorities in the 
question of evening schools. He was a member of the General 
Assembly in 1844 and 1858, and in each case refused a reelection. 
For many years he was director of the Fifth National Bank, also 
president of the old Butler Insurance Company. His influence 
was always strongly exerted in favor of the temperance reform. 
He held the position of vice-president, and later of president of 
the Mechanics Association. 

Mr. Knowles was largely engaged in real estate transactions, 
and his knowledge of law and thorough acquaintance with the 
city records, rendered his services valuable in questions of munic- 
ipal rights. He always manifested a deep interest in education 
and in all benevolent enterprises. 

James Y. Smith was born in Groton, Conn., Sept. 15, 1809. 




WALTER R. DANFORTH, 
Mayor from June, 1853, to June, 1854. 



His mother, Priscilla (Mitchell) Smith, was descended from 
Priscilla Mullens, of "Mayflower" fame, the heroine of Long- 
fellow's poem of the "Courtship of Miles Standish." 

Mr. Smith was early trained to habits of industry. His boy- 
hood was spent on the farm and at school. At thirteen years of 
age he entered a country store. In 1826 he came to Providence 
and engaged in the lumber trade. Following this he engaged in 
general wholesale merchandise for a number of years with his 
brother, Amos D. Later he was engaged in the manufacture of 
cotton goods in company with his two sons-in-law, in which 
enterprise he continued his interest until the time of his death. 

Mr. Smith devoted much time and effort to public service. 
For several years he was Representative in the General Assembly, 
and for a long time a member of the school committee. He was 
mayor of the city in 1855 and 1856, and governor of the state 
from 1863 to 1866, when he declined a renomination. At his 
election as governor in 1865 he received a majority vote in every 
town and ward in the state, a case never paralleled in the state 
history. After retiring from the office of governor, Mr. Smith 
served on various public commissions. He was chairman of the 
commission to build the new City Hall, and was on the building 
committee of three of the prominent churches in the city. He 
was three years president of the Board of Trade. At the time 
of his death he was president of a bank of discount, of two 
savings banks, director in eight insurance companies — in some 
of which he was president, director of the Providence & Wor- 
cester Railway Company, of the New York & New England 
Railway Company, and a member of five commissions under the 
city government. He was remarkable for his approachable and 
generous spirit, his friendliness being recognized by all who 
knew him. He died March 26, 1876, mourned by rich and poor. 
The funeral obsequies of few men of the state have attracted so 
general public notice as did his. 

William M. Rodman was born in Newport. He was edu- 
cated in a school taught by his father, who is still remembered in 
Newport as the Quaker school-master. At about the age of six- 
teen Mr. Rodman came to Providence and was apprenticed to 
the firm of E. C. & T. Wells, then the leading tailors of the 
town. After completing his apprenticeship he engaged in busi- 
ness for several years, winning the regard and confidence of all 
who knew him. In 1857 ne was elected mayor of Providence, 
which office he filled with great acceptance for two years. Prior 
to his election as mayor he had been a member of the school 
committee and of the city council. For some years prior to his 
death he was engaged in the insurance business, and at the time 
of his death he was secretary of the Firemen's Mutual Insurance 
Company, of Providence. 

Mr. Rodman was a man of more than ordinary ability. He 
possessed a poetic temperament, and was a ready writer both 
of prose and verse, and also a good public speaker. He had a 
great tact for public duties in general. As a man he was above 
reproach, and in private relations enjoyed universal esteem and 
regard. Mr. Rodman died at his home in this city, Dec. 11, 1868. 

Mr. Jabez C. Knight was born in Centreville, in the town 
of Warwick, in this state, July 31, 18 15. He came to Providence 
in 1830, where he has resided most of the time since. He was 
elected mayor of the city in May, 1859, against two opposing 
candidates, and was reelected the four next succeeding years 
without opposition. The fact that no candidates appeared against 
him is sufficient evidence that his administration was satisfactory 
to his constituents. He retired from office in June, 1864, having 
declined another nomination. Mr. Knight had previously served 
three years in the common council and four years in the board 
of aldermen, and terminated eight years' service as one of the 
board of license commissioners, in June, 1886. Mr. Knight 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



io? 



was also a member of the board of commissioners of the Dexter 
Donation for twenty-one successive years, and for several years 
was one of the board of trustees of the Providence Reform 
School, and in those several positions his duties were always 
conscientiously performed with a view to the best interests of the 
city and of his fellow-citizens. He held the office of paymaster- 
general of the state for twenty-four years, and during the war 
paid the state bounty to the various members of our regiments 
and batteries, amounting to more than three millions of dollars, 
and his accounts were always found correct. Mr. Knight has 
been connected with the Butler Hospital for the Insane as one of 
its board of trustees for thirty-five years, and has always main- 
tained a lively interest in its prosperity and usefulness, which 
interest he continues to feel in the discharge of a duty so important 
to the welfare of a great number of his unfortunate fellow-beings. 
Mr. Knight has represented the citizens as a member of the Gen- 
eral Assembly, and has also been a member of the school com- 
mittee of Providence for many years. He is still enjoying the con- 
fidence and esteem of his fellow-citizens. 

George L. Clarke was born in Norton, Bristol County, Mass., 
Aug. 10, 1 8 13. He came of good stock on both sides. His 
father, the Rev. Pitt Clarke, was for forty years pastor of the 
First Congregational Society, in Norton, and remained its pastor 
from the time of his settlement in 1793 until his death in 1835, 
and was known and beloved throughout Bristol County, and in- 
deed, throughout the state, as among the wisest ministers of the old 
Congregational denomination. His mother was Maria Jones, 
daughter of Dr. Jeremy Stimpson, of Hopkinton, Mass. She 
was a woman of fine presence, of rare intellectual qualities, and 
as beautiful in person as in character. Such was the immediate 
ancestry of Mayor Clarke. 

The pecuniary circumstances of a country minister in those 
days were such as made it necessary that his sons should be 
thrown upon their own resources at an early age. The only 
education Mayor Clarke was able to obtain was such as he could 
receive from his parents at home, and a few months " schooling " 
in the winter district school of his native town, and one or two 
quarters in a private academy until he became sixteen years old. 
At that age he was placed in a store in Providence, and went 
through the various grades, from doing a boy's work in a store 
to the top round of the ladder. 

He supplemented his meagre education by reading, by attend- 
ing the "Lyceum Lectures" of those days, and also such few 
scientific and literary lectures as were to be heard forty or fifty 
years ago. In his early manhood he became interested in the 
anti-slavery cause, and was well known in this city and state as 
among the staunchest of the abolitionists in the days when that 
name was a stigma of reproach, and to be known as an aboli- 
tionist meant social and political ostracism. He has had the satis- 
faction of living to see the whole system of slavery overthrown, 
as the result of the overwhelming anti-slavery sentiment of the 
North ; and of beholding a regenerated country growing and 
prospering under the inspiring rule of freedom. 

He was an active member of the old Liberty party, and of the 
Free Soil party, and when those parties became merged in the 
victorious Republican party of the state and Union he was among 
its earliest members and supporters. He was repeatedly sent to 
the General Assembly from the city of Providence. In 1866 he 
was elected Speaker of the House, and served with general ac- 
ceptance. 

In April, 1869, he was elected Senator from Providence to the 
General Assembly, and it was largely through his efforts at that 
session, that the Cove lands, now so valuable, were deeded by the 
state to the city. 

In May, 1869, after an unusually exciting contest, he was 




EDWARD P. KN0WLES, 
Mayor from June, 1854, to June, 1855. 

elected mayor of Providence by a large majority. After leaving 
the office of mayor he was, without opposition, elected alderman 
from the first ward of Providence, and served in that capacity 
until he declined a reelection. He was for many years one of 
the board of commissioners of the Dexter Donation, and also 
served several years on the school committee. 

Mayor Clarke's life and character are the legitimate outgrowth 
of the training which he received in his early home life, and of 
the influence of the example set before him there. It has not 
ceased in its influence on his fellow-citizens with the close of his 
official career as mayor, or with his retirement from other official 
relations. He lives still, retaining a deep interest in all the affairs 
of the city, and his counsel and advice, it is hoped, will long be 
of interest and usefulness to the present generation in their labors 
for the development of our municipal interests. 

William S. Hay ward was born in the town of Foster, R. I., 
Feb. 26, 1835. His youth was spent on the farm and at school. 
At the age of twelve years he removed to Old Warwick, R. I., 
where he remained four years, working upon a farm summers and 
attending school during the winter months. He came to Provi- 
dence in 1 85 1 and found employment in the bakery of Rice & 
Hay ward. In i860 Mr. Hay ward became a partner in the busi- 
ness, which has been successfully prosecuted up to the present 
time. Mr. Hayward was elected a member of the common council 
of Providence from the sixth ward, in May, 1872, and was con- 
tinued in that office until 1876, when he was elected a member of 
the board of aldermen from the same ward. This position he 
filled annually until the year 1881, being president of the board of 
aldermen the three latter years. November, 1880, he was elected 
mayor of the city of Providence, and served in that office three 
years, 1881, 1882, and 1883, and filled the office acceptably to 
his fellow-citizens, declining a longer service on account of the 
demands of his private business. Mr. Hayward is now a member 
of the board of state charities and corrections, and is also serv- 
ing a second term in the General Assembly as a Representative 
from Providence. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, of 
the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of the Knights of Pythias, 



Digitized by 



Google 



io6 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




WILLIAM M. RODMAN, 
Mayor from June, 1857, to June, 1859. 

the First Light Infantry Veteran Association, of Providence, the 
Franklin Lyceum, and other societies. 

Thomas A. Doyle was born in Providence March 15, 1827. 
He enjoyed the advantages of the city schools, and graduated 
from the Elm Street Grammar School. At the age of fourteen 
he entered the counting-room of Benjamin Cozzens, Esq., where 
he remained six years, He then held for five years the position 
of chief clerk for Jacob Dunnell & Company. In 1853 ne was 
elected cashier of the Grocers and Producers Bank, which position 
he occupied two years. Later he became stock broker and auc- 
tioneer of real estate. In 1848 he was elected ward clerk for the 
sixth ward. This position he held for six years, after which he 
held office under the city government almost continuously till his 
death. In 1852 he was elected a member of the common council 
from the fifth ward. He was chairman of various important com- 
mittees, and president of the council in 1854 and 1855. In 1855 
he was chairman of the board of assessors. For eighteen years he 
served on the school committee. In June, 1864, he was inaugur- 
ated mayor of the city. To this office he was annually reelected, 
with the single exception of 1869, until January, 1881. 

He again resumed the office, January, 1884, which he occupied 
until his death, June 9, 1886. Mr. Doyle was a prominent 
Mason, and was made Grand Master in 1857. During his 
administration as mayor, the city more than doubled in population 
and wealth, and at his instigation many important improvements 
were made. The city police were drilled and uniformed, water 
was introduced, an excellent system of sewerage was adopted, the 
Roger Williams Park given to the city and improved, many 
public buildings were erected, and a general spirit of progress 
infused into the city government. In 1881 he was elected Senator 
to the General Assembly. For many years Mr. Doyle was a 
consistent member of the Unitarian Church. He married, Oct. 
21, 1869, Almira, daughter of Amasa and Fanny Sprague, and 
sister of ex-Senator William Sprague. 

Gilbert F. Robbins, acting mayor of Providence since the 
death of the Hon. Thomas A. Doyle, was born in Burrillville, 
Aug. 26, 1838. His parents, people of sterling worth, were 



farmers of the town, who gave their son such education as the pub- 
lic schools afforded until he was seventeen years of age. He then 
attended the academy at East Greenwich for a while, after which 
he removed with his family to this city, where they took up their 
permanent abode. Preferring business to professional life, young 
Robbins availed himself of the commercial training then given 
by Messrs. Potter and Hammond to acquire a good hand-writing 
and a knowledge of book-keeping. 

Soon after finishing his course of study an opportunity came for 
him to engage in business with his brother-in-law, Mr. Serril 
Mowry. They were located on Washington Row for many 
years, engaged in the ready-made clothing trade. The business 
of the firm prospered from the outset. In the spring of 1884 the 
firm removed to the corner of Westminster and Dorrance streets, 
where they still conduct the business under the name of Mowry, 
Robbins & Company. 

Though closely attentive to his own business, Mr. Robbins has 
been actively identified with public affairs in the city for many 
years, and has proved an efficient and trustworthy officer in vari- 
ous positions of public responsibility. He was a member of the 
common council from the seventh ward during the years 1879, 
1S80, and 1881. He was chairman of the committee on high- 
ways, and was one of the committee on the Brook Street district. 
In 1882 he was elected to the board of aldermen, becoming pres- 
ident of the board in 1883, which office he still holds, and by 
virtue of which he is now acting mayor of the city. While be- 
longing to that body he has been chairman of the committee on 
police, and a member of the committees on lamps and finance. 
He was also a member of the joint committee on the city engi- 
neering department, and the joint special committees on sewer- 
age. During the years 1880, 1881, and 1882, he was a member 
of the lower house of the General Assembly. 

Mr. Robbins is a prominent member of the order of Odd Fel- 
lows, in which he has held various offices. He was Grand Mas- 
ter of the Grand Lodge in 1875 and 1876, and was elected by that 
body as delegate to the Sovereign Grand Lodge. 

The private life and public career of Mr. Robbins has been 
such as to win for him the confidence and respect of the citizens 
of Providence. 

President of the Board of Aldermen. — This office was 
created in September, 1863, by an ordinance providing for the 
election of one of the aldermen as president, to preside at all 
meetings of the board in the absence of the mayor, and in case of 
the death of the mayor or his disability from any cause, appointing 
the president of the board acting mayor until another is duly 
elected. The following-named aldermen have officiated as presi- 
dent since 1863 : 

James S. Ham, from March, 1863, to June, 1864. 
John D. Jones, from June, 1864, to June, 1868. 
Henry J. Angell, from June, 1868, to June, 1869. 
George P. Tew, from June, 1869, to June, 1871. 
Amos W. Snow, from June, 1871, to June, 1873. 
Addison Q^ Fisher, from June, 1873, to January, 1878. 
William S. Hayward, from January, 1878, to January, 1881. 
Robert E. Smith, from January, 1881, to January, 1882. 
Henry R. Barker, from January, 1882, to January, 1883. 
Gilbert F. Robbins, from January, 1883, who is now in office. 

City Clerk. — The city clerk is the official clerk of the 
board of aldermen, whose diity it is to record all votes, orders, 
resolutions and ordinances made and passed by the city council ; 
to furnish the names of certain committees to the proper authori- 
ties, certify copies of votes relating to the several departments 
as required by the heads of the departments, and various other 
clerical duties. He is also authorized to prepare the City 
Manual and to superintend the printing of all documents ordered 
by the city council. This office has been filled by the following- 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



107 



named gentlemen, there having been but four city clerks in the 
office since the incorporation of the city : 

Richard M. Field, from June, 1832, to Dec. 1, 1843. Died in office. 
Albert Pabodie, from Dec 7, 1843, to Jan. 2, i860. Died in office. 
Samuel W. Brown, from Jan. 5, i860, to Jan. 6, 1879. 
Henry V. A. Joslin, from, Jan. 6, 1879, who is in office. 

President of the Common Council. — The president of the 
common council is elected annually, and his official duties are 
to preside at all meetings of the council, to preserve order and 
decorum, and to decide all questions of order. He can, by vacat- 
ing the president's chair, discuss general questions of debate like 
other members, and in speaking on questions of order he has the 
precedence of other members. The following-named well-known 
citizens have filled the office of president of the common council 
since the year 1832 : 

George Baker, from June, 1832, to June, 1834. 
George Curtis, from June, 1834, to June, 1837. 
George W.Jackson, from June, 1837, to June, 1839. 
Thomas B. Fenner, from June, 1839, to June, 1842. 
Stephen T. Olney, from June, 1842, to June, 1844. 
William S. Patten, from June, 1844, to June, 1845. 
James C. Hidden, from June, 1845, to June, 1847. 
John J. Stimpson, from June, 1847, to June, 1848. 
Edward S. Williams, from June, 1848, to June, 1849. 
Christopher C. Potter, from June, 1849, to June, 1850. 
Thomas P. Shepard, from June, 1850, to June, 1851. 
Walter Paine, Jr., from June, 1851, to June, 1852. 
Wingate Hayes, from June, 1852, to June, 1854. 
Thomas A. Doyle, from June, 1854, to June, 1855. 
Charles T. Robbins, from June, 1855, to June, 1856. 
Stephen Waterman, from June, 1856, to June, i860. 
John N. Francis, from June, i860, to June, 1863. 
William Binney, from June, 1863, to June, 1871. 
Nelson W. Aldrich, from June, 1871, to June, 1873. 
Nicholas Van Slyck, from June, 1873, to Aug. 10, 1874. 
Horatio Rogers, from Aug. 10, 1874, to January, 1875. 
Francis Colwell, Jr., from January, 1875, to January, 1876. 
AbnerJ. Barnaby, from January, 1876, to January, 1877. 
Charles P. Robinson, from January, 1877, to January, 1879. 
Henry R. Barker, from January, 1879, to January, 1880. 
George H. Burnham from January, 1880, to January, 1881. 
J. Carter Brown Woods, from January, 1881, to January, 1885. 
Rathbone Gardner, from January, 1885 ; still in office. 

Clerk of the Common Council. — The duty of the clerk 
of the common council requires him to act as the recording clerk 
at all its meetings, and to keep a correct record of all its official 
proceedings ; also to act as the clerk of the city council at all 
joint sessions of the two boards ; to transmit from the council to 
the board all papers and business requiring joint action ; to trans- 
mit to the mayor all papers and communications requiring his 
action, and also serve as the clerk of several of the committees of 
the council. The following-named gentlemen have filled the 
office from its origin, there having been but five in all, or really 
but four, Mr. Thomas B. Fenner, the first clerk, officiating only 
at the organization of the city government in June, 1832, Mr. 
Allen O. Peck being elected second in the position the same 
month, and serving two years. Judge Albert G. Greene, was 
elected clerk in June, 1834, anc * resigned the office in February, 
1867, after a faithful and continuous service of almost thirty-four 
years : 

Thomas B. Fenner, from June 4, 1832, during organization. 
Allen O. Peck, from June, 1832, to June, 1834. 
Albert G. Greene, from June, 1834, to Feb. 11, 1867. Resigned. 
Joshua M. Addeman, from Feb. 25, 1867, to Jan. 2, 1882. 
Daniel F. Hayden, from Jan. 2, 1882; still in office. 

City Treasurer. — The city treasurer is the legal custodian 
of all the moneys and monetary transactions of the city, and his 
office is the repository of all money due to or from the city. He 
is also the collector of taxes to whom all city taxes must be paid. 



In this capacity he has received the enormous sum of $350,000 
in a single day. In his office are made up all the pay-rolls for 
the payment of the school teachers, policemen, firemen, lamp- 
lighters, and other city employes. All the water bills, nearly 
twelve thousand in all, are paid in his office and all interest on 
the city bonds, notes, etc., is also paid by him, all the finances of 
the city being managed and controlled by this department of 
the city government. The following-named gentlemen have sev- 
erally filled the office of city treasurer in the order named : 

Stephen Tillinghast, from June, 1832, to June 15, 1840. Resigned. 
Robert Knight, from June 15, 1840, to July 27, 184a Resigned. 
Benjamin Clifford, from July 27, 1840, to Nov. 22, 1843. Resigned. 
Stephen Tripp, from Nov. 27, 1843, to Feb. 14, 1849. Died in office. 
George W. Hall, from Feb. 19, 1849, to March 11, 1850. Resigned. 
Esek Aldrich, from March 11, 1850, to June, 1855. 
Marinus W. Gardner, from June, 1855, to Dec. 1, 1862. Removed. 
Joseph C. Peckham, from Dec. 2, 1862, to Aug. 20, 1868. Died in office. 
Benjamin Tripp, from Aug. 24, 1868, who is now in office. 

Surveyors of Highways. — There have been eight surveyors 
of highways elected from the time the office was created, in 1832, 
until it was abolished in 1872, — a term of nearly forty years- 
Mr. Henry G. Mumford, who was elected one of the surveyors in 
June, 1833, very ably and efficiently filled the office for thirty-three 
consecutive years, until he retired from it in 1856. He was a very 
well-known and highly esteemed public-spirited official and citi- 
zen. The office of surveyor has been filled consecutively by the 
following-named incumbents until it was abolished, April 10, 
1872, by an ordinance adopted by the city council, that transferred 
its several powers and duties to the newly-created office of high- 
way commissioner : 

William T. Grinnell, from June, 1832, to Aug. 27, 1832. 

Dexter Thurber, from June, 1832, to Aug. 27, 1832. 

Pardon Mason, (for west side,) from Aug. 27, 1832, to June, 1833. 

Warren Batcheller, (for east side.) from Aug. 27, 1832, to June, 1833. 

Henry G. Mumford, from June, 1833, to June, 1856. 

William Batcheller, from June, 1856, to June, 1858. 

Samuel B. Durfee, from June, 1858, to June, 1866. 

Thomas W. Hart, from June, 1866, to April 10, 1872. 




JABEZ C KNIGHT, 
Mayor from Junt, 1859, to Junt, 1864. 



Digitized by 



Google 



io8 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



The total number of miles of received streets in the city is 
about one hundred and fifty-two ; number of miles of platted 
streets about one hundred and thirty-two ; thirty-five horses are 
employed in the street department, and in the summer time about 
three hundred men, including sweepers ; one steam rock crusher, 
two steam road rollers, and two horse street-sweepers are owned 
and used by this department The streets least used are swept 
one, two, or three times a week, according to location. The 
principal streets in the business centre of the city are swept daily 
by hand, and some portions every night by the horse machines. 

Highway Commissioners. — Under the provisions of the ordi- 
nance adopted by the city council for the purpose early in 1872, 
the following-named gentlemen were elected highway commis- 
sioners, and served the city in that office in the order and for the 
time named below : 

Samuel L. Blaisdell, from Feb. 7, 1872, to May 26, 1876. Resigned. 

Charles Anthony, from Feb. 7, 1872, to May 24, 1878. 

Gideon Bradford, from Feb. 7, 1872, to Nov. 6, 1874. Died in office. 

Lemuel S. Harris, from January, 1875, to January, 1879. 

Thomas W. Hart, from Feb. 5, 1877, to Nov. 5, 1880. 

Obadiah Brown, from May 24, 1878, to Nov. 5, 1880. 

George E. Thompson, from January, 1879, to Nov « Si I 88o. 

Mr. Thompson was the last of the highway commissioners, 
the office having been abolished by an ordinance of the city 
council, which terminated its existence and conferred its powers 
and duties upon the board of public works, creating a new city 
department April 15, 1880, which has had the entire supervision 
of all the city highways and roads since that time. 

Water Commissioners. — The ordinance of the city council 
creating the board of water commissioners, under the authority 
granted by the General Assembly, was adopted Sept. 20, 1869. 
This ordinance provided for the election of a board of water com- 
missioners, comprising three members, to have the entire charge 
and supervision of the construction of the water works for the 
introduction of the Pawtuxet water into the city. The first of 
these commissioners, elected Sept. 27, 1869, were Messrs. Joseph 
J. Cooke, Charles E. Carpenter, and Moses B. Lockwood, their 
successors being severally and separately elected to fill vacancies 
as they occurred, until the office was abolished April 15, 1880, 
and its powers and duties thus transferred to the then newly- 
organized board of public works. Mr. Lockwood died in office 
in 1872, and Mr. Cooke resigned the office of chairman of the 
board in 1876. The seven commissioners who have filled the 
office, and their terms of service, are as follows : 

Joseph J. Cooke, from Sept. 27, 1869, to Nov. 1, 1876. 

Charles E. Carpenter, from Sept. 27, 1869, to Nov. 1, 1876. 

Moses B. Lockwood, from Sept. 27, 1869, to May 13, 1872. Died in office. 

William Corliss, from May 23, 1872, to Nov. 1, 1876. 

Lodowick Bray ton, from Nov. 1, 1876, to Nov. 5, 1880. 

Nathaniel F. Potter, Jr., from Nov. 1, 1876, to Nov. 5, 1880. 

Henry L. Parsons, from Jan. 18, 1877, to Nov. 5, 1880. 

City Auditor. — The city auditor's official duty requires him 
to receive and audit all accounts presented to him from the vari- 
ous departments of the city government, and to draw drafts on 
the city treasury for the payment of all accounts accepted as cor- 
rect. He is also required to make an annual auditor's report to 
the city council of the expenditures of the city in detail for the 
past fiscal year, and also a report of the estimated expenditures 
for the ensuing year. Since its institution Aug. 9, 1847, the five 
successive auditors have been as follows, Mr. James M. Cross, 
the present auditor, having filled that responsible position since 
1863 with the honorable record of twenty-three years' continuous 
service : 

Stephen T. Olney, from Aug. 9, 1847, to June, 1850. 
George B. Jastram, from June, 1850, to June, 1854. 
John J. Paine, from June, 1854, to June, 1863. 



Henry A. Webb, from June, 1863, to June 8, 1863. 
James M. Cross, from June 8, 1863, now in office. 

City Solicitor. — The city solicitor is the law official of 
the city whose duty it is to advise and instruct the various officials 
and departments on all law questions that may arise involving the 
interest of the city ; to appear as the legal counsel of the city in 
all cases that come to trial in the courts, and to have the general 
direction and control of all the law department of municipal 
affairs. Since the office was instituted June 15, 1853, the follow- 
ing-named solicitors have filled the position for the terms named : 

James M. Clarke, from June 22, 1853, to Aug. 23, 1854. 
Willard Sayles, from Jan. 29, 1855, to June, 1855. 
James M. Clarke, from June, 1855, to June, 1863. 
Benjamin N. Lapham, from June, 1863, to June, 1865. 
Francis Colwell, Jr., from June, 1865, to June, 1866. 
John P. Knowles, from June, 1866, to September, 1867. 
Charles H. Parkhurst, from June, 1868, to June, 1874. 
Nicholas Van Slyck, from Aug. 10, 1874, and he is now in office. 

Judges of the Municipal Court. — The Municipal Court 
is a court presided over by a judge of probate, who has the legal 
charge of the probate of wills, the administering of estates, the 
appointment of administrators, of guardians over minors and all 
other incompetent persons, the adoption of children, and what- 
ever other duties may be imposed upon the same by law. This 
court has criminal jurisdiction, either original or appellate, over 
all offenses against the ordinances of the city council and the 
ordinances and the rules of the board of aldermen, and of all 
cases arising under the truancy acts. 

This court was instituted with the incorporation of the city, in 
the year 1832, since which time the following-named judges have 
been elected by the city council and have served for the several 
terms stated with their names : 

Thomas Burgess, from June, 1832, to June, 1853. 

Francis E. Hoppin, from June, 1853, to June 14, 1858. 

Albert G. Greene, from June 14, 1858, to April 8, 1867. 

Amasa S. Westcott, from April 8, 1867, to July 3, 1884. 

Joseph E. Spink, from July 18, 1884, who now continues in office. 

Clerk of the Municipal Court. — The duties of the clerk 
of the Municipal Court include the recording of all the wills pro- 
bated by the court, the issuing of certificates to administrators and 
executors appointed, and the keeping of a correct and attested 
record of the entire proceedings of the court. The office was 
created with the court in 1832, since which time six clerks have 
been appointed, as here given, with their term of service : 

Allen O. Peck, from June, 1832, to June, 1834. 

Albert G. Greene, from June, 1834, to July 21, 1857. 

Samuel W. Peckham, from July 24, 1857, to Aug. 10, 1857. 

Levi Salisbury, from Aug. 10, 1857, to June, 1868. 

George B. Nichols, from June, 1868, to July 18, 1884. 

Charles C. Mumford, from July 18, 1884, to July 2, 18S5. 

Clifford A. Harrington, elected July 2, 1885. 

Superintendent of Lights. — This office was instituted 
Aug. 12, 1864, and filled by the appointment of a police con- 
stable to the position until Oct. 5, 1874, when, by ordinance, it 
was constituted a new department, with the superintendent elected 
annually by the city council. The superintendent has entire con- 
trol of the erection and operation of all the public lights of the 
city, and is required to make an annual report of the cost and 
conduct of his department to the city council. Including the 
superintendent, sixty-seven men are employed in this department, 
of whom sixty-three are lamp-lighters. The present number of 
street lights of all kinds are as follows : gas lights, 2,552 ; gaso- 
line, 613 ; naptha lights, 1,008 ; electric lights, 175. The electric 
lights are furnished and operated by the Narragansett Electric 
Lighting Company, using the Thompson-Huston system, and 
the Rhode Island Electric Lighting Company, using the United 
States system, about half the number by each company, under 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



109 



special contract with the city at a cost of thirty-three cents per 
night, or very nearly the same expense as the three gas lights for 
which it is deemed an improved substitute ; each electric light 
taking the place of three gas lights, this change relieves the depart- 
ment of the charge of over five hundred gas lights, the two electric 
companies caring for and operating all their own lights. The 
arc light only is used in all the electric street lights, giving a 
more brilliant, effective, and satisfactory illumination of the high- 
ways and byways of the city than the gas light, or any other kind 
yet used. The Providence Gas Company has always furnished 
ail the street gaslight, under contract ; the light department sup- 
plying all its naptha lights. There have been but four superin- 
dents of lights, in all, as follows : 

John M. Clarke, from Dec. 1, 1864, to March 12, 1876. 
Joseph C. Whiting, Jr., from March 12, 1867, to October, 1867. 
Charles M. Smith, from October, 1867, to April 14, 1879. 
Samuel B. Swan, from April 14, 1879; now holding the office. 

Inspector of Buildings. — The duties of the inspector of 
buildings, as defined by the statute, require him to officially and 
carefully inspect the location, construction, and materials of all 
buildings erected within the city limits, and secure from all build- 
ers and contractors a strict conformity with all the laws " in such 
case made and 'provided." It is also his duty to require all owners 
or builders of mills, factories, or blocks employing more than a 
certain number of persons, to provide for them such fire-escapes 
as the law requires, of sufficient capacity for each building. 
There have been but two inspectors appointed since the office 
was established, April 12, 1878, as follows: 

Oliver E. Greene, from April 12, 1878, to January, 1884. 
Spencer B. Hopkins, from January, 1884, wno * 8 now in office. 

Fire Marshal. — The city council, May 27, 1881, adopted 
an ordinance creating the office of fire marshal, with the duty 
of officially investigating and carefully inquiring into the cause 
and extent of all fires occurring within the city limits, and giv- 
ing him the jurisdiction of all other matters properly and legally 
connected with all such fires, with instructions to make an annual 
report on each case, in detail, to the city council. So far there 
has been but one marshal elected, as named below : 

Elias M. Jenckes, elected Jan. 20, 1881, and now officiating. 

Public Administrator. — This office was created by the 
city council, June 2, 1876, to provide for the lawful administra- 
tion of all estates and properties left by deceased owners or 
possessors, not otherwise provided for, in this city, the ordinance 
requiring the appointment of this city official by the Municipal 
Court. There have been but two public administrators appointed, 
as follows : 

Daniel Burrows, from Feb. 5, 1877, to Feb. 6, 1882. 

Jonathan G. Parkhurst, from Feb. 16, 1882, who still remains in office. 

Justices of the Police Court. — The police court was 
organized with the city charter in 1832 to consist of so many jus- 
tices of the peace, not exceeding three, as shall be annually se- 
lected by the city council, and oftener in case of vacancy, any one 
making a quorum, to have exclusive original jurisdiction of all 
suits for offenses against the ordinances of the city. The follow- 
ing-named gentlemen, many of whom have since been prominent 
at the bar in the higher courts, have been the justices of this court 
up to the present time : 

Robert G. Knight, Charles F. Tillinghast, Albert G. Greene, selected 

June, 1832. 
William R. Staples, Alpheus Billings, selected June, 1833. 
William R. Staples, Thomas White, selected June, 1834. 
Robert Knight, Albert G. Greene, Henry L. Bowen, selected June, 1835. 
Thomas White, William P. Olney, George F. Man, selected June, 1836. 
Henry L. Bowen, Walter S. Burges, selected June, 1838. 
Robert Knight, Henry L. Bowen, Walter S. Burges, selected June, 1839. 

15 




GEORGE L. CLARKE, 
Mayor from June, 1869, to June, 1870. 

Henry L. Bowen, Walter S. Burges, Edward H. Hazard, selected June, 

1840. 
Henry L. Bowen, Edward H. Hazard, Walter Paine, Jr., selected June, 

1842. 
Henry L. Bowen, Charles Holden, Jr., Charles Hart, selected June, 1844. 
Henry L. Bowen, Samuel Brown, Joseph S. Pitman, selected June, 1845. 
Samuel W. Peckham, Henry L. Bowen, Francis E. Hoppin, (elected 

June, 1846. 
Samuel W. Peckham, Francis E. Hoppin, James M. Clarke, selected 

June, 1847. 
Samuel W. Peckham, Francis E. Hoppin, Charles Hart, selected June, 

1849. 
Samuel W. Peckham, Charles Hart, selected June, 1853. 
Henry L. Bowen, William Knowles, selected 1855. 
Henry L. Bowen, Samuel W. Peckham, selected June, 1857. 
Samuel W. Peckham, Horatio Rogers, Jr., selected June, 1861. 
* Samuel W. Peckham, Lucius C. Ashley, selected June, 1862. 
Lucius C. Ashley, William H. Greene, selected June, 1867. 
Francis A. Daniels, Stephen Essex, selected June, 1868. 
Stephen Essex, Elias M. Jenckes, selected June, 1872. 
Elias M. Jenckes, Lorin M. Cook, from 1872 to 1875. 
Elias M. Jenckes, and Joseph S. G. Cobb, who are now in office. 

City Sergeant. — The city sergeant, whose office origi- 
nated with the city government in 1832, may be properly styled 
the peace officer of the city, his principal duty being to serve all 
the legal notices issued by the authority and in behalf of the city. 
There have been but three incumbents of the office to the present 
time, as named below : 

Edward Harwood, from June, 1832, to April 10, 1848. 
James C. Sheridan, from June, 1848, to June, 1861. 
Edward S. Rhodes, from June, 1861, and now in office. 



Digitized by 



Google 



no 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




WILLIAM S. HAYWARD, 
Mayor from January, 1881, to January, 1884. 

• 

City Messenger. — This office was created Sept. i, 1854, by 
an ordinance of the city council, which constitutes the messenger 
the legal custodian of the City Hall and its contents, and gives 
him the charge of all city documents published, and to attend to 
the general wants and requirements of the various city depart- 
ments. He is also required to notify members of all meetings of 
the city council, and the various committees of their appoint- 
ments, meetings, etc., besides other duties. There have been 
but two messengers elected, as follows : 

James C. Sheridan, from Sept. 18, 1854, to June, 1861. 
Edward S. Rhodes, from June, 1861, who remains in office. 

Overseer of the Poor. — The office of overseer of the poor 
was established by the city charter in 1832, to provide sustenance 
for all indigent persons having a proper claim upon the city for 
support, at the Dexter Asylum or some of the charitable institu- 
tions of the state. It is one of the most important departments 
of the city government, and has always been conducted with such 
ability, discretion, and economy in the management and preven- 
tion of pauperism as to win a national renown, more especially 
for the system originated and very successfully operated by Mr. 
Wightman, the present overseer, of furnishing labor to all un- 
employed mendicants. The following digest of the business done 
by the overseer of the poor for the year 1885, shows but faintly 
the importance, efficiency, and extent of this department of the 
city's charities and corrections. 

The Dexter Asylum, on Jan 1, 1886, contained 102 inmates 
about the present average number. The total expense for 1885 
was $32,445.43; $16,871.22 of which was the proceeds of the 
farm, $14,918.29 from the Dexter Donation Fund, the balance 
of $655.92 from other sources. Total number assisted by the 
overseer at the charity building in the year 1885, 2,990, of whom 
638 were adults, and 1,552 children. Total expense of this out- 
side assistance for the year was $16,899.10, the expense of this 



department being greatly reduced by employing able applicants 
at paid labor. During 1885, lodgings were furnished and 2,062 
meals given to 163 women and 60 children, and 1,356 meals given 
to 189 men who had worked the required time to pay for them. 
In addition to the meals given on the recommendation of city 
physicians, 189 quarts of beef tea and 114 quarts of milk to in- 
valids under their charge during the year. 

The following-named gentlemen have been the four overseers 
of the poor in office since 1832 ; George W. Wightman, the 
present overseer, first elected in June, 1858, has held the office 
for more than twenty-two consecutive years : 

Joshua Rathbun, from June, 1832, to June, 1839. 
William F. Greene, from June, 1839, to Oct. 16, 1854. 
Stephen A. Phillips, from Oct. 16, 1854, to June, 1858. 
George W. Wightman, from June, 1858, and he 16 still in office. 

Board of Public Works. — This office was created by an 
ordinance passed by the city council, April 15, 1880, providing 
for the election of three commissioners to be entitled the board of 
public works and giving to said board the entire control, supervis- 
ion, and direction of the water supply and sewerage, the city en- 
gineer and the highway departments of the city and transferring to 
it all powers previously exercised by other officers in these several 
departments of the public work. A brief synopsis of the present 
extent and condition of the water supply and sewerage and other 
public works in their charge is appended. 

The entire supply of water for the city water works is taken 
from the Pawtuxet River, (or Pocasset River as then called) , at 
a point in the town of Cranston about six miles from the centre 
of the city, where are located the three large pumping engines, in 
three separate buildings, well known as the Pettaconsett Pump- 
ing Station. The construction of the water works, commenced 
in the spring of 1870, was so far completed that the water was 
first let on to the city Nov. 18, 1871, at which time but thirty 
miles of water pipe had been laid. The net cost of construction 
and maintenance of the works to Nov. 1, 1876, was $4,473,008.79. 
At Pettaconsett the water is pumped through a large pipe up into 
the Sockanosset Reservoir, about a mile from the river on the 
top of Sockanosset Hill, 180.5 feet above the level of the river, of 
sufficient height to flow the water through the mains to the Hope 
Reservoir, on Prospect Hill, in the city, about one mile from the 
business centre of the city and six and a half from Sockanosset, 
which being on the same level is kept full by the natural gravi- 
tation of the water through a thirty-six-inch conduit. The mains 
also supply the low service distribution embracing all portions of 
the city below an average elevation of eighty-five feet above mean 
high tide in Providence River. 

All sections of the city located higher than the above-named 
elevation are supplied with water pumped from the Hope 
Reservoir, pumped by one of the large force pumps located there 
for the purpose. The city has also recently secured land located 
in North Providence, directly north of the city, to build a still 
larger and higher reservoir, to provide for the future demand. 
About fifty men and a number of horses are now employed in 
operating the water works. The total amount of water consumed 
in the city, during the year 1885, was as follows : average daily 
consumption, 4,730,556 gallons ; average monthly consumption, 
I 37>58o>339 gallons; total annual consumption 1,650,964,062 
gallons. 

City Engineer. — The office of city engineer was created 
May 29, 1869, by an act of the city council which defines his 
powers and duties as follows : He is authorized and directed to 
superintend the construction and maintenance of all the city 
water works, sewers, highways and bridges, and as overseer of 
bridges is required to make an annual inspection and report their 
condition and need of renewal or repair to the board of aldermen. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



in 



He is also required to make surveys, estimates, and plans for all 
streets, water works, sewers, etc., decide and to define all lines 
and grades of highways for all persons giving notice of their in- 
tention to build. 

The sewerage of the city, which followed the introduction of 
water as a very natural and necessary result, was commenced in 
the year 1871, under the plan known as the confined system of 
sewerage, and although as great progress has been made in the 
construction of sewers in all parts of the city up to the present 
time as could be reasonably expected, it will probably be many 
years yet before the system is so far completed as is deemed 
absolutely necessary for the best welfare of the city. There have 
been seven members of the board of public works, whose names 
and terms of service are stated below : 

Samuel B. Swan, from Nov. 5, 1880, to March, 1883. 
Obadiah Brown, from Nov. 5, 1880, to March, 1882. 
Charles Anthony, from March, 1882, to March, 1884. 
Frederick E. Anthony, from March, 1883, to March 24, 1884. Resigned. 
Clinton D. Sellew, from March, 1884. 
Charles E. Carpenter, from May 15, 1884. 

Charles H. Hunt, from Feb. 4, 1884. These last three named being now 
in office. 

His official duties also embrace all such professional service 
for the city as properly comes under the direction of civil engineer 
or surveyor. There have been but two city engineers from the 
first, whose names and terms of office are given below : 

Charles E. Paine, from June, 1869, to Feb. 5, 1877. 
Samuel M. Gray, from Feb. 5, 1877, who is now in office. 

Collector of Taxes. — In the earlier days of the town gov- 
ernment the town taxes were received by the collector, either in 
money, or in goods at an appraised value that was fixed in 
the act assessing the tax, and then realized upon by the collector 
selling the goods received for taxes under the direction of the 
town council, but in later and better times, when money be- 
came more plenty, that only was received in payment of taxes. 
For two centuries the collector who was appointed by the town 
council for the purpose, called personally upon each taxpayer to 
make his collections, paying over all the money he collected to 
the town, or later, city treasurer, receiving a fro rata commis- 
sion in payment of his services. This system of collection of 
taxes continued until October, 186S, when the office of tax 
collector was abolished and all taxes made payable at the office 
of the city treasurer, by an act then adopted by the city council, 
conferring the duties of the collector upon the city treasurer, 
which method has prevailed ever since. Appended is a sum- 
mary of the city tax for the year 1885 : valuation of all property 
assessed — real estate, $92,887,400 ; personal estate, $31,314,600 ; 
total, $124,202,000; amount of tax raised, $1,800,929. The fol- 
lowing-named four tax collectors have filled the office from 1832, 
to October, 1868, when it was abolished and its powers and duties 
conferred upon the city treasurer, who has since officiated : 

John Hill, from June, 1832, to June, 1837. 
Robert Knight, from June, 1837, to June, 1839. 
James Mumford, from June, 1839, to June, 1859. 
Nehemiah S. Draper, from June, 1859, to October, 1868. 

Ciw Registrar. — The city registrar keeps an official record 
of all the births, marriages, and deaths occurring in the city, 
of which an unofficial report is published in the Providence 
Daily Journal every week ; an official monjthly report is also 
published in the Journal and in pamphlet form. The regis- 
trar also publishes in the public press and in pamphlet form an 
official annual report of marriages, births, and deaths ; issues 
marriage licenses and certificates of all births, marriages, and 
deaths, which are recorded in his office, upon the application of 



parties interested. This office was created in July, 1855, an< ^ 
is now held, after an uninterrupted and continuous service of 
more than thirty-one years, by the present and only registrar : 

Edwin M. Snow, from July, 1855, to present time. 

Superintendent of Health. — In the early history of the 
town it had no health or sanitary department, and the disposal of 
all sewage matters and nuisances was left to the option of each 
citizen. The first great foe to the public health was the small- 
pox, for which the only remedy sought, before the discovery of 
vaccination, was an inoculation of the same disease under favor- 
able circumstances, and a hospital was established near the site 
of the present Rhode Island Hospital, where persons would go 
to take the disease in that manner, and remain there until recov- 
ery. Early in this century the yellow fever scourge ravaged this 
town three times, the last attack being just before the great gale 
of September, 18 15. It was supposed to have derived its virus 
from the exhalations of the stagnant docks along the river front. 
These docks were soon after mostly filled, the fever disappeared, 
and a better sanitary condition soon prevailed. The town council, 
acting as a board of health, then took charge of all matters relating 
to the public health until the city government was organized in 
1832, when that, with all other departments, were transferred to 
the new government. 

The present thorough and efficient system of conserving the 
public health was not inaugurated by the city until July, 1856, 
when Dr. Edwin M. Snow, who has earned a world-wide repu- 
tation as a sanitary specialist, was elected superintendent of health 
by a general vote of the citizens, which office he held for eighteen 
years, until 1884, when he was succeeded by the present incum- 




GILBERT F. ROBBINS, 
Acting Mayor sinct Jun« 9, I 886. 



Digitized by 



Google 



112 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



bent, Dr. Charles V. Chapin. The superintendent of health 
serves the board of aldermen as its agent of health, the city gov- 
ernment providing no board of health, and, by the authority of 
the city council, he has the charge of the removal of swill and of 
all types of nuisances and also of the public vaccination. Every 
child, before being allowed to enter any public school in this city, 
must present a certificate of vaccination to the teacher. If not 
already done, vaccination, free of cost, will be performed by the 
superintendent of health at his office, for any parent or pupil who 
desires it. In case of a threatened epidemic from small-pox, it is 
the duty of the superintendent to see that all persons have been, 
or are vaccinated. The virus used by him is always the best 
possible that can be procured. The following gentlemen and 
physicians are the only two persons yet elected to this office : 

Edwin M. Snow, from July, 1856, to January, 1884. 

Charles V. Chapin, from January, 1884, who is now in office. 

Chief Engineer of the Fire Department. — This office 
was established by act of the city council July 11, 1853, since 
which time it has been filled and its duties very efficiently per- 
formed by* six successive chiefs. The chief engineer of the 
fire department has the sole command and entire control and 
supervision of that department, his official duty requiring him to 
keep all its property and materials always in such condition and 
repair as to be constantly ready for efficient use, and is authorized 
and directed to certify all accounts against the city chargeable to 
the fire department. He can make or change any rules or regu- 
lations for the government of his department, and can appoint or 
discharge any or all other officers or members of the fire de- 
partment, although all such action of his is always subject to the 
approval of the joint standing committee of the city council 
on the fire department. He is required also to make an annual 
report to the city council of the existing condition of the fire 
department, together with a- list of the fires occurring in the city, 
statistics of the estimated amount of losses by fires, and all other 
matters properly connected with the department. The following- 
named six well-known chiefs have filled the position since it 
was established : 

Joseph W. Taylor, from July 11, 1853, to June, 1859. 

Thomas Aldrich, from June, 1859, to June, 1862. 

Charles H. Dunham, from June, 1862, to July 10, 1865. Resigned. 

Dexter Gorton, from July 10, 1865, to June, 1869. 

Oliver E. Greene, from June, 1869, to July 2, 1884. Resigned. 

George A. Steere, from July 2, 1884, still in office. 

Deputy Chief Engineer of the Fire Department. — 
This office was created March 10, 1883, tne principal duty of 
the deputy being to fill the position of the chief in his absence. 
This office has had but one incumbent, who served only from 
March 10, 1883, to July 2, 1884, when he resigned to accept the 
office of chief, which he now holds, and since then the office has 
been vacant : 

George A. Steere, from March 12, 1883, to July 2 » *884» when he 
resigned. 

Recorder of Deeds. — The office of the recorder of deeds 
was established by the city council in 1866, and is now located in 
the large open fire-proof hall, designed and constructed for the 
preservation of the records, in the new City Hall, where all these 
records are made and kept, and where they are always open to 
public inspection, under proper restrictions, during official busi- 



ness hours, which are from nine o'clock, a. m., to five o'clock, 
p. M., daily, except Sundays and legal holidays, closing at three 
o'clock Saturday afternoons, these being also the regular business 
hours of all other offices in the City Hall. The duties of the 
recorder of deeds are to keep in the most proper and durable 
books, correct and certified records of all deeds of transfer of real 
estate, all mortgages of personal estates, and all liens and attach- 
ments made on real estate within the jurisdiction of the city, the 
recorder having three assistant clerks needed for the proper per- 
formance of his official duties. The recorder has in his charge 
the most important and valuable of all the city properties, the 
series of records of deeds in his office being complete from 1676 
to 1886, a period of 210 years, a municipal manuscript library 
indispensable and invaluable. The records kept previous to 1676, 
both of deeds and town action, so far as they have been preserved 
and copied, are to be found in the earlier books of records in this 
office. There has been but one recorder of deeds, Mr. William- 
son having fibly filled the office for thirty years : 

Gustavus A. Williamson, from June, 1856, who continues in office. 

Harbor Master. — It is the duty of the harbor master to 
visit officially all vessels arriving in or departing from the city 
harbor, to require their conformity to all maritime and municipal 
laws and regulations provided for their government, to exercise an 
official supervision over them during their detention in these 
waters, and to have a general charge and oversight of all com- 
mercial business of the city. The office was created Aug. 15, 
1853, since when it has been filled by the gentlemen named below 
at the times and for the terms stated : 

Nathaniel S. Mauran, from Aug. 15, 1853, to June, 1854. 

Nathaniel Church, from June, 1854, to June, 1858. 

Daniel Joslin, from June, 1858, to January, 1884. 

Thomas W. Waterman, from January, 1884, to January, 1885. 

James T. P. Bucklin, from January, 1885, who is now in office. 

Superintendent of Public Buildings. — This office and 
department was created by an ordinance of the city council, 
adopted Dec. 28, 1868, which conferred upon the superintendent 
the charge of the construction of all school-houses and fences and 
other public buildings, and the custody and care of all such 
buildings when completed, and their premises, also requiring a 
constant oversight of all the city property in his department, and 
authorizing him to make repairs and employ help as he may need, 
acting with the advice and consent of the city council, and 
exercising a general official supervision of the construction, re- 
pair, and maintenance of all such buildings or other structures as 
may be erected by the city. He is also required to present to the 
city council an annual report of all the transactions in his depart- 
ment of the city business, which has become quite an extensive 
and growing one, it having now 100 buildings in its charge, 
fifty-five of which are school-houses. The time of the super- 
intendent is fully and economically occupied with his work in 
constructing new buildings and repairing, altering, and improving 
old ones. Expenditures last year for this department were $65,- 
000, including the pay of the large corps of janitors of school- 
houses. There has been but one superintendent, Mr. Obadiah 
Slade having so satisfactorily filled the position for the entire 
seventeen years, since its creation, that no successful opposing 
candidate for it has ever been nominated to the city council : 

Obadiah Slade, from Jan. 25, 1869, and who still remains in office. 



Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter II. 



CITY GOVERNMENT OF PROVIDENCE.— Continued. 

THE PROVIDENCE POLICE FORCE FIRST POLICE REGULATIONS OF THE TOWN — OFFICERS OF POLICE FIRST APPOINTED — FIRST 

NIGHT WATCHMEN — PERMANENT ORGANIZATION OF NIGHT WATCHMEN, THEIR DUTIES, ETC. — POLICE STATION ON MAR- 
KET SQUARE THE WAR WATCH OF 1812-15 — CHANGES IN THE NIGHT WATCH THE OLD TOWN HOUSE AS THE POLICE 

STATION — THE CITY WATCH ORGANIZED -7 CHANGES IN THE LATTER TILL 1848 FIRST BADGES WORN DAY POLICE OR- 
GANIZED — NIGHT WATCH IN TWO DISTRICTS — IN FIVE — HEAD-QUARTERS REMOVED TO CANAL STREET — REORGANIZATION 

OF POLICE SYSTEM UNDER MAYOR DOYLE — CHIEF OF POLICE — UNIFORMS LATER CHANGES AND ADDITIONS — LIST OF CITY 

MARSHALS — CHIEFS OF POLICE — PRESENT ORGANIZATION OF THE DEPARTMENT AND COMPLETE LIST OF ITS OFFICERS AND 
MEMBERS PROVIDENCE POLICE ASSOCIATION — ITS ORIGIN, ORGANIZATION, OBJECTS AND CONDITION IN l886. 




A PROVIDENCE POLICEMAN. 



The first requisite of civilized so- 
ciety is the conservation of order among 
the various members thereof. Every 
man feels a desire to gratify all his 
wants, and is frequently tempted to do 
so at the expense of others. The first 
lesson of social organization is, that for 
the general good and the maintenance 
of peace, certain powers must not be 
exercised. The regulation of society 
which we call police consists of the 
curbing and controlling of those powers 
which if left in unlimited sway would 
produce anarchy and disorder. Just 
where the line is to be drawn between 
the powers properly under police sur- 
veillance and those not under such con- 
trol, has always been a delicate ques- 
tion. Two hundred and fifty years 
ago the world generally believed that 
religious worship was one of the powers 
and duties of man to be so regulated. 

The distinctive feature of Providence Plantations was that 
within its limits religious worship and belief were not to be so 
regulated. To other communities it was incomprehensible that 
a state of society so organized could exist. They thought that 
if religion was not under police surveillance then nothing could 
be ; hence arose the idea then common in many parts of the 
country, that Providence was a lawless assembly of free-thinkers. 
A perusal of the history of the colony shows that one of the 
earliest documents to be found is an agreement of the townsmen 
to subject themselves " to the orders made for the public good of 
the body, ... by the major assent of the "present inhabi- 
tants, masters of families incorporated together into a town fel- 
lowship, and such others whom they shall admit unto them only 
in civil things." 

This was the first Providence provision for police regulation 
and is supposed to have been executed about 1637. In 1640, the 
population having increased to an extent that mere agreement to 
abide by rules would not suffice, a regulation was made providing 
for five "disposers" who had charge of the police and other 
regulation of the town affairs, who were appointed for three 
months, held meetings once a month, and left all cases of dispute 
to arbitration, and in the last resort to arbitrators chosen by them, 



and arranged that if any man abused another in person or goods 
that all the inhabitants would combine to assist in the pursuit of 
the party delinquent, " but if any man raise a hubbub, and there 
be no just cause therefor," the party that raised the hubbub to 
satisfy men for their time lost in it. 

The whole town population then constituted the police force, 
with the disposers for chiefs of police and the arbitrators for 
police courts. This system was not long practicable. It soon 
became evident that an officer must be appointed to specially care 
for the town's peace. This officer was the town sergeant, and 
Hugh Bewitt was the first incumbent of that office, in 1651. 
• The town sergeant besides caring for the police preservation 
of the town, also served civil process of the courts. In later 
times the town sergeants had constables appointed under them to 
aid in the preservation of the peace. None of these officers 
received salaries or devoted their whole time to the performance 
of their duties ; the compensation consisted of fees, and the town 
sergeant was, at a later date, entitled to assess upon each ratable 
free holder of the town one shilling per annum. 

These officers and the " hubbub " or posse comitatis of the 
town seemed to be sufficient in the earlier days to maintain the 
peace of the growing commonwealth. It was not until the period 
of the Revolutionary War that anything approaching a regular 
police force was established, and that was only for service in the 
night-time. In May, 1775, a night watch was established, which 
consisted of four men, two of whom watched each night. In 
i796- , 97 the night watch was reestablished with at first six and 
afterwards twelve men. Of these twelve six watched each alter- 
nate night, issuing from the town watch house, which was a 
building seven feet high and twelve feet square, on Market Square, 
in three pairs, at ten o'clock ; one pair going north to Mr. Ben- 
jamin Cozzen's house, one going south to India Point, and one 
u west as far as Mr. Hoyle's house," and perambulated the streets 
of u the compact part of the town till the ringing of the sunrise 
bell." 

These watchmen were appointed under the direction of the 
town council and were paid one dollar for each night of actual 
service. Many citizens maintained that it was improper to pay 
the watchman for the performance of this duty, claiming that 
every citizen owed such service to the community and that all 
should give their services freely to the town, each in rotation. 

In 1797 this matter of the town watch and how to maintain it 
was submitted to a committee consisting of J. W. Corlis, Thomas 
P. Ives, and Amos B. Atwell. 



Digitized by 



Google 



ii4 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



The committee reported against the plan of the citizens serving 
in rotation and in favor of employing a regular permanent force 
who were to be paid from the proceeds of a direct tax on the 
property of the citizens. This report was adopted and from that 
time forth the night watch remained a permanent institution. It 
was organized under the direction of the town council and 
governed by rules and regulations established by that body. They 
were ordered to inspect carefully all houses, stores, and work- 
shops, as they passed them, in order to prevent fires gaining head- 
way, to suppress all riotous conduct in the streets ; to commit 
all refractory persons to the bridewell, and to note and report to the 
president of the town council all houses containing riotous or dis- 
orderly company. A year or two later they were ordered to call 
on all persons appearing on the street after eleven o'clock, and if 
they refused to give their names they were to be deemed as dis- 
orderly and detained in the watch house until the next morning. 
They were forbidden to enter any house while on their beat for 
the purpose of getting spirituous liquors. The badge of the watch 
consisted of a staff about six feet long with a hook attached to one 
end. Their costume consisted of the oldest worn clothing they 
could procure, in order to save the spoiling of better in case of 
personal conflict, and over all, in winter, a huge camlet cloak. * 

The lot of the night watchman of those days could not have 
been a very happy one. Street lights were unknown ; but very 
few of the streets were paved and those that were had not the side- 
walks of to-day, but were paved from side to side with cobble stones 
while from adjacent houses steps projected here and there into the 
street, affording traps for the unwary. The watchmen on a dark 
night struggling along by the faint glimmer of lanterns carried by 
themselves, were considered a fair butt for the wit of practical 
jokers, whose attempts to break their lanterns and escape unde- 
tected, if successful, were applauded by their confreres in mischief. 
Adding to this the danger from the actually ruffian element of 
society, who, gathering in crowds, could hold the isolated pair of 
watchmen at their mercy, it is easy to see that the post was one 
of no inconsiderable risk and danger. 

The beats covered by the watchmen were so extensive that the 
existence of the system gave little protection against theft. In 
the year 1800 this difficulty was partially remedied by the ap- 
pointing of a supplementary watch to guard the south part of the 
town, more especially the wharves, where much property was 
necessarily exposed. This force consisted of four men, two watch- 
ing in pairs each night. They were appointed and authorized by 
the town council to arrest all suspicious persons, .but were not 
paid by the town, their expense being defrayed by contribution 
amongst the parties interested in maintaining the watch. 

In 1806, as if to add to their difficulties, the watch were obliged 
to make their presence and whereabouts known to all by pro- 
claiming in a loud voice the hour of midnight, thus giving effectual 
notice to any evil-disposed persons within hearing to cease their 
depredations for the time being. 

In 1808 and in 181 2, supplementary watches on the same 
system as that of 1800 were established, the latter covering the 
property between the Weybosset Bridge and Olney's lane, and 
was continued till September, 1813, when the public watch was 
increased in number to sixteen men, and their pay increased to 
$1.25 per night's service. This increase of force and pay was 
deemed to involve too great an expense for the suffering town, it 
being then in the midst of the war of i8i2-'i5, and in March, 
1814, the watch force was reduced to twelve men, and their wages 
to $1.00 per night. Shortly after a British fleet was reported as 
off the coast and a night watch of six men with carriage guns 
was stationed on a vessel anchored between Kettle and Field's 
points. In August this guard and vessel were withdrawn. Shortly 
after the night watch were ordered in case of alarm of fire or 



invasion to gather at the town clerk's office for the purpose of 
taking care of and saving the records and other property of the 
town. This arrangemenf left the rest of the town unguarded at 
the very time when such guard was most needed. To reinforce 
the town watch various volunteer night watch associations were 
formed in this year. The members of these associations were 
granted the same power as members of the night watch when 
on duty. 

In October, 18 14, the night watch was increased to twenty 
men, and their wages advanced to $1.25 per night. They were 
ordered to arrest all persons who persisted in smoking cigars on 
the streets and gangways of the town. 

The increase of force in October, 1814, was evidently a war 
measure, for in March, 18 15, after the arrival of the news of the 
peace negotiated with Great Britain, the watch was again reduced 
to twelve men. In September, 181 5, the night watch was again 
increased, this time to forty-four men ; sixteen on the west side of 
the river and twenty-eight on the east side, one-half of the force 
acting in pairs each night. This system was only continued for 
one month, when the total police force dropped again to twelve 
men. During this period the voluntary watch associations dropped 
out of existence. 

In November of the next year, 1816, the watch was increased 
to twenty men, formed into five patrols ; and the captains were 
to see that no two men traveled together as partners for a longer 
time than one week. 

In March, 18 17, the watch was again reduced to twelve men. 
In November the watch was ordered to meet thereafter at the 
Hydraulion Engine House, then newly established on Exchange 
Street, and the twelve by twelve foot watch-house on Market 
Square was removed. 

In October, 1824, the hour of commencing the patrol was 
changed to eight o'clock. In 1826 the watch was increased to 
twenty-four men. Inspection of the town records shows that this 
question of the night watch was the exciting local political one of 
the day ; that the town was nearly evenly divided as to whether to 
pursue a liberal or a niggardly policy in the matter, and as one or 
the other party prevailed, the rapid and apparently inconsistent 
changes in the treatment of the matter above recorded, took place. 

In September, 1828, the head-quarters of the watch were re- 
moved to the Old Town House on the corner of College and Benefit 
streets. The inefficiency of the old town watch in keeping order 
under the new state of affairs existing and increasing with the 
rapid growth of the town, became evident by the increasing rioting 
in the north part of the town, near the mouth of the Blackstone 
Canal, which culminated in the Olney Street riots in September, 

Largely growing out of these disturbances came the incorpora- 
tion of the city, with a city watch of twenty-four men, divided into 
two watches, Avery Allen being captain of the first watch and 
David E. Man, captain of the second watch. The pay of the 
captains was fixed by the city at $1.25 per night, and that of the 
men at $1.00 per night. 

In July, 1833, the department was further improved by the 
establishment of a city marshal, who became chief of the depart- 
ment. Henry G. Mumford was elected to this office. 

Early in 1837 numerous attempts at incendiarism caused the 
ordering of the night watch to commence their duties at half-past 
six o'clock each evening, and in December of the same year these 
attempts had so alarmingly increased that sixteen additional watch- 
men were appointed. In November, 1838, the number of men 
was again reduced to twenty-four. In 1839, owing to renewed 
prevalence of incendiarism, sixteen extra watchmen were again 
placed on the force and maintained till February 17, of the next 
year, after which date the watch was reduced to twenty-four men, 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



"* 



the pay being reduced to eighty-three cents per night. It was 
afterwards advanced to eighty-seven and a half cents per night, and 
the captain's pay fixed at $1.00. 

In 1848, the first badge to be worn on the clothing was adopted. 
It consisted of a brass star. The men were much opposed to 
wearing them in sight, preferring to carry them in their pockets, 
and two years later it was found necessary to pass an ordinance 
compelling them to wear them on the lapels of their coats. 

In 1 85 1 the first movement was made towards the formation of 
the day police force as at present constituted. Ten men, Wil- 
liam H. Hudson, Jabez J. Potter, George A,. Billings, Thomas 
W. Hart, George W. Wightman, William G. Slack, William B. 
Cranston, Nathan M. Briggs, William G. Merriweather, and 
John M. Shaw, were appointed by the city council in joint com- 
mission to patrol the streets in the day-time under the supervision 
of the city marshal. 

In July, 1852, the night watch was increased to thirty-two men 
and divided into two districts, Captain Allen continuing in com- 
mand of the division having head-quarters at the Old Town House, 
and Simeon Sherman being placed in command of the other 
division with head-quarters in the old stone school building which 
stood on the northwest corner of Summer and Pond streets. In 
November, 1853, the night patrol was increased to forty-six men, 
divided into five districts. Each of these men was to do duty each 
night. The Old Town House was the first and central station ; 
the second was at the corner of Mill and Charles streets ; the third 
on Wickenden Street, west of Benefit ; the fourth on Summer 
Street, corner of Pond ; the fifth at the corner of Richmond and 
Tippecanoe streets. Each of these stations was in charge of a 
sergeant. The captain visited each station once every night. 
Under this organization the watchmen all assembled at the first 
station, and at nine o'clock in the evening the men of the other 
four districts proceeded to their local head-quarters to commence 
their rounds. In March, 1854, the night patrol was increased to 
fifty-six men. 

In the latter part of i860, the Old Town House was torn down 
and the watch and police head-quarters were temporarily located 
in the second ward ward-room adjoining on Benefit Street, where 
they remained till the completion of the Central Police Station on 
Canal Street, in April, 1861, when they were removed to that 
building. In the last days of the old system the night watch 
received $1.50 per night, and the day police received $2.00 per 
day. The cost of maintaining this system in the last year of its 
existence, 1863-4, was $49>°97» 12 > tne population of the city at 
that time being about fifty -four thousand nine hundred. 

In June, 1864, Thomas A. Doyie was first elected mayor, and 
then commenced that remarkable term of service which, with 
slight interruptions, lasted till his death in office, June 9, 1886. 
To him, more than to any other single person, is Providence 
indebted for its present efficient system of police supervision. 
From the very commencement of his official life he devoted much 
of his attention to the improvement of that branch of the municipal 
organization, and by September 30, a system was planned which 
on that date took the place of the former one. Under the new 
system the night and day men were granted equal authority, and 
their compensation was fixed at $2.00 per day. The new organi- 
zation consisted of ninety-nine men, with Thomas W. Hart, city 
marshal ; Thomas J. A. Gross, captain ; William B. Cranston, 
superintendent of hacks ; Albert A. Slocum, clerk ; Warren G. 
Slack and Ira B. Willson, warrant officers ; and John M. Clark, 
superintendent of lights. 

Sergt. Benjamin A. Newhall was placed in command of the 
first station, from which thirty-eight men issued to patrol ; twenty 
on night service and eighteen on day patrol. The second station, 
at the corner of Mill and Bark streets, was commanded by Sergt. 




THE CITY HALL, EXCHANGE PLACE. 

Frederick W. Perry, with twelve patrolmen ; the third station, 
on Wickenden Street, with Sergt. Edwin Tripp and twelve pa- 
trolmen ; the fourth station, with head-quarters at Knight Street 
fire station, with Sergt. Simeon Sherman and twelve patrolmen ; 
and the fifth station was on Richmond Street, with Sergt. James 
W. Sanders and twelve patrolmen. 

The head-quarters of the department were located in the Cen- 
tral Station, Canal Street. The relative efficiency of the new sys- 
tem is shown by the returns of their first year: they made 2,531 
arrests, provided lodgings for 1,147 persons, returned 115 lost chil- 
dren to their parents. The whole amount of property reported 
as lost or stolen in that year was $18,946.65, of which the police 
recovered $12,643.75. The cost of maintaining this force for the 
year was $86,872.83. 

In 1865 seven patrolmen were added to the force, and a detec- 
tive police department was added to it, of which George A. Bil- 
lings and James G. Swan were made members. 

In 1866 the office of chief of police was created, and Nelson 
Viall chosen to that position. Up to this time no uniform or mark 
of authority other than the badges heretofore referred to had been 
used. In 1864 provision for a uniform had been made but they 
were not procured till 1866. This uniform was made of blue 
cloth and about the same style as used at present with lettered 
brass buttons, black belts, locust clubs, and at first, caps made of 
the same material as the clothing. These latter have since been 
superseded by helmets. The old system of traveling in pairs was 
also abolished, and now each day or night patrol paces out his beat 
unaccompanied. In 1 868 seven more patrolmen were added to the 
force. In 1870 the force was increased to 122 men. On Aug. 
16, 1871, the third, fourth, and fifth stations were opened for day 
service, and the force increased to 142 men, while the introduc- 
tion of telegraphy in aid of the service, rendered it much more 
efficient. In 1874 the force was increased to 186 men, owing to 
the annexation of over six square miles of territory taken from the 
town of North Providence, now known as the tenth ward. In 
this district a sub-station of the fourth district was established, with 
roundsman Patrick Egan in charge, and seven patrolmen centred 
there. 



Digitized by 



Google 



n6 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



On Jan. 4, 1875, further improvements in the organization of 
the force were made by ordinance, authorizing the appointment 
of a deputy chief of police, seven captains, and seven sergeants. 
In this year the force was increased to 190 men, but even with 
this increase and though the efficiency of the service was added 
to by making an electric connection between all stations except that 
at Olneyville, a large amount of extra duty, averaging thirty-six 
days of extra service to each man, was required this year. 

In 1876 the present station house in the third district was 
erected on Wickenden Street. In 1877 the present brick station in 
the second district was completed and occupied. In 1878 upon 
the completion of the City Hall, the head-quarters of the police 
department were removed thereto, at the corner of Washington 
and Dorrance streets. 

In 1879 the number of men were reduced to 175, and a 
mounted patrol of ten men in the surburban districts was organ- 
ized. This mounted patrol has proved very effective. 

In July of this year the office of roundsman was abolished and 
that of lieutenant created. The sergeants were promoted to 
lieutenants, and the roundsmen made sergeants. Telephones 
were substituted for telegraph instruments, and the men employed 
to operate the latter were added to the patrol service. These 
changes added ten men to the latter service. Two boys were 
appointed as messengers, one in the mayor's and the other in the 
chiefs office. The Olneyville or sixth station in this year was 
opened for day as well as night service ; this was the last station 
not so open. In the same year an ambulance of the most approved 
pattern was purchased for police use, and has been in almost daily 
use since. 

In 1882 the number of the force was increased to 185 men. 
In 1885 fifteen men were added to the police force, which now 
consists of 200 men, under the command of one chief, one deputy 
chief, six captains, six lieutenants, and eight sergeants. This 
number includes ten mounted police. 

City Marshal. — In June, 1833, the second year of the city 
government, the office of city marshal was organized by the 
city council as the commander of the police force of the city in 
place of the first captain of the watch, which office was thus 
abolished. The city marshal was the chief officer and head of 
the police force with the duties of his office and his position as 
commander of the force more definitely defined and established 
than ever before. This office existed until 1866, twenty-six 
years, during which it was held by the following-named well- 
known heads of the police department of those earlier days of the 
force : 

Henry G. Mumford, from June, 1833, to June, 1845. 

Jabez J. Potter, from June, 1845, to June, 1848. 

Daniel K. Chaffee, from June, 1848, to June, 1854. 

William H. Hudson, from June, 1854, to June, 1859. 

Thomas W. Hart, from June, 1859, *° J une » 1866. 

Chief of Police. — The next prominent change made in 
the organization of the police department was in June, 1866, 
when the city council abolished the office of city marshal and 
substituted for him as the head of the police force a new officer 
with the title of "chief of police," to whom the office of his 
predecessor, with some additional powers and duties, was trans- 
ferred by the ordinance creating him chief and since then there 
has been no further change, the office having been successively 
filled by the eight following-named gentlemen at the times and 
terms stated below : 

Nelson Viall, from June, 1866, to June, 1867. 

Albert Sanford, from June, 1867, to June, 1869. 

William Knowles, from June, 1869, to June, 1870. 

Thomas J. A. Gross, from June, 1870, to August, 1871. Died in office. 

John M. Knowles, from Aug. 14, 187 1, to Sept. 13, 1877. 

William H. Ayer, from Sept. 30, 1878, to May 4, 1879. Died in office. 

Charles H. Hunt, from May 22, 1879, to Nov. 1, 1880. Resigned. 

Benjamin H. Child, from January, 1881, who is now in office. 



The following is the present organization of the police depart- 
ment and complete list of its officers and members : 

Chief of police, Benjamin H. Child; deputy chief of police, John T. 
Brown; clerk of police, Seth L. Horton; detectives, James O. Swan, 
Patrick Parker; warrant officers, Edwin R. Jones, Isaiah Long; super- 
intendent of hacks, George H. Norcross; property clerk, Stephen F. 
Blanding; messenger, Carleton E. Hunt. 

First Station. — Station house at the corner of Canal and Haymarket 
streets. Joseph Marston, captain; George H. Dary, lieutenant; Frederick 
A. Rankin, Constant S. Horton, John A. Murray, sergeants; patrolmen: 

LeRoyT. Bennett, Robert Arnold, 



Charles B. Baird, 
Joseph Bradbury, 
Richard A. Clark, 
Joseph B. Curtis, 
John H. Colton, 
Frank E. H. Campbell, 
Frederick A. Daniels, 
William Gardiner, 
William II. Lawrence, 
Edmund J. Munroe. 
Joshua A. Nickerson, 
John V. Simonds, 



John E. Bowen, 
Chester H. Blood, 
Peter B. Cannon, 
Eugene Dailey, 
Charles E. Fort, 
Thomas Gibbons, 
Duty J. Greene, 
Wm. H. Gale, 
Allen F. Grant, 
William F. Hayden, 
Thomas W. Jacobs, 
Alfred S. Keach, 



Jefferson G. Longfellow, 
Herbert M. Willard, 
Andrew P. Martin, 
Frank L. Martin, 
Frank H. Morton, 
Albert E. Nickerson, 
John W. Poinier, 
Edmund E. Robinson, 
Frederick E. Reed, 
Samuel W. Thomas, 
John K. Tripp, 
Thomas D. Tyler, 
Nahum Willard. 



Second Station. — Station house on Chalkstone Avenue. Benjamin F. 
Payne, captain ; Reuben R. Baker, lieutenant; J. Henry Wilbur, sergeant; 
patrolmen : 



Frank W. Ayer, 
Joseph R. Boss, 
George W. Boss, 
Granville S. Baker, 
Frank R. Bartley, 
George B. Lapham, 
William A. Kent, 
Eugene W. Armstrong, 



Francis J. French, 
Alfred H. Gates, 
Marcelle Hannon, 
John B. Hartnett, 
Harvey A. Jenne, 
Ira C. Johnson, 
Christopher J. Leavitt, 
Michael Madden, 
A. Sidney Tucker. 



Frank M. Miller, 
John F. Mathewson, 
Peter H. McCready, 
A. Frank Mowry, 
George F. Nye, 
Nathan M. Russell, 
Theodore Rutherford, 
Edward J. Smith, 



Third Station. — Station house on Wickenden Street. Patrick Egan, 
captain; Eugene Stevens, lieutenant; Benjamin T. White, sergeant; 
patrolmen : 



George A. H. Collins, 
George N. Cobb, 
John J. Carey, 
Lorenzo D. Prosser, 
John B. McGuiness, 
George A. Reaves, 
Joseph A. Arnold, 
James Ash, 



Thomas H. Bennett, 
Herbert C. Blood, 
Ezra A. Burlingame, 
Skinner A. Collier, 
Edwin S. Conkling, 
George E. Cooke, 
Matthew Fitzpatrick, 
George H. Grover, 



Daniel E. Hurley, 
Walter E.Jordan, 
Wm. C. McCallion, 
Benjamin A. Newhall, 
John J. Sullivan, 
Charles E. Smith, 
• Robert Walsh, 
Job S. Yeaw. 



Fourth Station. — Station house on Knight Street. William H. Cory, 
captain; Edward O'Neill, lieutenant; James P. Scott, sergeant ; patrolmen: 



Varnum Fuller, 
Hiram Hart, 
Alexander Charnley, 
Abel G. Whidden, 
James L. Sherman, 
Hiram Allen, 3d, 
Timothy T. Arnold, 
Warren B. Arnold, 
Otis W. Baker, 
George A. Clark, 
Daniel T. Colwell, 
Peter F. Duffy, 



Francis H. Dunlavey, 
William H. Fergurson, 
Frank Field, 
James A. Flynn, 
John B. Gormley, 
Anson M. Grover, 
Charles B. Gorey, 
Robert T. Hathaway, 
Peter H. Healey, 
Elwin E. Hewitt, 
Theodore R. Holloway, 
Andrew J. Kennedy, 



George F. Lewis, 
William A. Munroe, 
Henry F. Morse, 
Joseph F. McGinnis, 
William A. O'Brien, 
Hart B. Pierce, 
Henry H. Place, 
Joseph W. Pratt, 
Michael Reynolds, 
William P. Whipple, 
William M. Wyman. 



Fifth Station.— Station house on corner of Plane and Borden, formerly 
on Richmond Street. Jeremiah Costine, captain; William H. Leavitt, 
lieutenant; Thomas D. Topliff, sergeant; patrolmen : 



Josiah Bennett, 
Alfred H. Knowles, 
John B. Livesey, 
Joseph A. Prout, 
John Tracy, 
Abel C. T. Wheeler, 
Edward W. Baker, 
Owen E. Brahaney, 
William Bradburv, 



William E. Bowen, 
Hartley W. Brown, 
Elden W. Doe, 
Thomas Harvey, 
Charles S. Young. 
Edward Hanniford, 
Benjamin F. Nicholas, 
James O'Sullivan, 
Chandler B. Robinson, 



William S. Longfellow, 
David F. O'Connor, 
George E. Ordway, 
Charles May no. 
Murdock C. McKenzie, 
Isaiah B. Sherman, 
Isaac W. Taylor, 
Sylvester Tracy. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



117 



Sixth Station. — Station house on Capron Street. Patrick J. 
Magill, lieutenant; George Crane, Jr., sergeant; patrolmen: 



Frank A. Mathews, 
Hugh F. McCusker, 
William N. Sherman, 
Patrick A. Sullivan, 
Joseph A. Wyman, 



George W. Bowen, Isaac A. Austin, 
James A. Cooke, William W. Chase, 
William J. Booth, Charles A. Daggett, 
William H. Rowe, John N. Dyer, 
Lewis L. Allen, James Feeley, 

Welcome U. Foye. 
Retired officers. — Thomas J. Lucas, James W. Sanders. 
Providence Police Association. — The subject of 
organizing a coSperative society for mutual benefit in 
cases of sickness, disability, and death, was frequently 
discussed among the members of the police department, 
but not until March 9, 1870, was the matter brought into 
definite form, and application made for a charter. 

The nucleus of the permanent fund was obtained 
through the generosity of Messrs. Barker, Whitaker & Company, 
who, in consideration of the services of the police at a fire where 
their goods were exposed, made a donation for the general benefit 
of the department. About the same time the late George M. 
Richmond, Esq., for protecting and recovering his property dur- 
ing a severe freshet in 1867, forwarded to Gen. Nelson Viall, 
then chief of police, a check to be used for the same purpose. 
Other small sums were added from time to time, until the or- 
ganization of this association, when the total sum amounted to 
$358.07. 

The General Assembly at the January session of 1870, granted 
the charter of the association upon the petition of the following- 
named gentlemen : Benjamin A. Newell, Joseph Marston, Ben- 
jamin H. Child, Seth L. Horton, John T. Brown, William H. 
Cory, and Joseph W. Pratt, as its charter members under which 
it was incorporated, March 9, by the name of the "Providence 
Police Association." Its object is to assist all active members of 
the police force who may join it, whenever injured or disabled in 
the line of their duty, or who from sickness, death, or other mis- 
fortune may need aid and assistance, as provided by the by-laws 
of the association. Its charter allows it a capital of $50,000, and 
requires it to hold an annual meeting for choice of officers and 
transaction of business. Any member of the police force retiring 
honorably after five years' continuous service, may continue a 
member of the association by conforming to its by-laws, but no 
one serving on the force less than five years can remain a member 
or have any claim to the property of the association, though it 
may continue to aid him in its discretion. Section fourth of the 
charter provides that it shall not, in any manner, relieve any mem- 
ber of the police force from any duty or liability under the charter 
and ordinances of the city ; and in case of the death of the wife of 
any active member of the police force, each member of this associ- 
ation is paid $200 from its funds and by its rules. 
The first meeting of the board of directors was held at the ' 





THE OLD TOWN HOUSE. 

Originally the First Congregational Church. Formerly located at the corner of Benefit and 
College Streets. For many years the Town Hall and Police Station. 

16 



THE STATE PRISON, AT CRANSTON. 

Central Police Station, June 12, 1871, when the following-named 
officers were elected at the organization of the association : 

William H. Cory, president ; Richmond J. Stone, vice-presi- 
dent; William H. Ayer, secretary ; John M. Knowles, treasurer. 

No member can receive any benefit until after seven days' 
sickness, or during any illness resulting from any improper or 
immoral conduct; active members of the police force are paid 
$1.00 per day when receiving full pay from the city, and $2.00 
per day when the city pay ceases ; all applications for aid must 
be made to the secretary in writing, within two weeks from the 
beginning of the disability. 

The captain's morning report of sick or disabled members is a 
sufficient notification to claim benefits ; all absentees from the city 
must give indisputable evidence of their sickness to the directors 
to entitle them to receive any benefits. 

Within five days after the death of any member of the association, 
who is then in good standing, there shall be appropriated from 
the funds the sum of $700 to be paid " to the widow, child or 
children, or parent or parents, brother or brothers, sister or sisters, 
of such member" under provisions to secure each heir their legal 
claim of the funeral benefit, as it is called, and all claims must be 
made in writing to the secretary within ninety days from the death ; 
when there are no claimants for such benefits, the association in- 
ters the deceased member in its lot in the North Burying Ground, 
erects a tombstone over him, and the balance of his fund reverts 
to the associational treasury. 

During the sixteen years from its organization to the present 
time, but twenty-four members of the police force and the associa- 
tion have died. 

The late Peleg W. Gardiner, a successful merchant, well known 
in this city, with a characteristic peculiarity, gave his personal 
attention to bestowing gifts from his ample means on those he 
selected as deserving and worthy objects of charity, among whom 
he especially favored the wives and families of deceased police 
officers. Desiring to perpetuate this beneficence after his decease, 
on Jan. 11, 1877, he transferred to this association sixteen shares 
of the capital stock of the National Bank of North America, of 
the par value of $800, to be held in trust, and the income to be 
used for its charitable purposes forever. The income from this 
fund up to January, 1886, has been $267.22. 

The treasurer reports that the amount of receipts and expendi- 
tures for 1885 were as follows : 

Total receipts for the year, $4,930.25 ; total expenditures, 
$4,041.53, for the following purposes : sick benefits to thirty-five 
members, $1,017.57; on death of three members' wives, $600; 
on death of three members, $2,100; miscellaneous expenses, 
$323.96. Amount invested and in the treasury, Jan. 1, 1S86, 
$17,855.26. 

The entire disbursements of the association, from its organi- 
zation to Jan. 1, 1886, have amounted to the sum of $26,345.87. 



Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter III. 



THE CITY GOVERNMENT.— Continued. 



THE PROVIDENCE FIRE DEPARTMENT — THE FIRST FIREMEN — EARLY RULES AND REGULATIONS — FIRST FIRE-ENGINES — FIRST 
SUCTION ENGINES — HYDRAULION NO. I — FORMATION OF FIRST VOLUNTEER COMPANIES — THE HYDRAULION NO. I SECOND 
ENGINE — FIRST FORCE PUMPS — FIRST HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY — CHIEF ENGINEERS — ROSTER OF FIRE DEPARTMENT 
FOR l88<-6 — NOTABLE FIRES IN PROVIDENCE — VETERAN FIREMEN* S ASSOCIATION — LIST OF MEMBERS. 




A PROVIDENCE FIREMAN. 



" The Volunteer Fireman was a man who 
day and night and without pay was on the 
alert for an opportunity to imperil his life in 
saving the lives and property of his fellow- 
citizens." — G. W. Sheldon. 

Every citizen of Providence 
may feel a just pride in the history 
of the Providence fire depart- 
ment, especially all those whose 
ancestors were members of it, 
for it has among its honored 
names, governors, mayors, al- 
dermen, councilmen, and others 
who have occupied prominent 
positions in the city and state. 

Judge Staples in his Annals 
of Providence gives 1754 as 
the first year when measures 
were taken by the government of 
the colony or town, to protect its 
property from fire. This year 
the inhabitants of the compact 
part of Providence petitioned for 
power to purchase a " large water engine. " Obadiah Brown 
and James Angell were appointed a committee to " rate the 
housing and all other things in the compact part of the town of 
Providence which are liable to be destroyed by fire " a sum suffi- 
cient to purchase the engine petitioned for. A law was also 
passed by the colony requiring each house-keeper to be provided 
with two good leather buckets, containing at least two gallons 
each, with his name distinctly painted upon them. They always 
hung in the u front entry " and were only used in case of fire, and 
if no male person was then in the house to take them, they were 
placed upon the front door-steps to be used by the first passer-by. 
These buckets were annually inspected by the town sergeant 
or one of the town constables who visited each house, and reported 
to the town council the names of all delinquents, who were fined 
for allowing the buckets to be in a useless condition. 

Fire buckets were undoubtedly the first apparatus for extin- 
guishing fires used in this city, and elsewhere in the country, 
being then the best and most readily available. Large syringes 
or squirts were the first improvements devised for the projection 
of water upon fires higher than it could be thrown from buckets. 
The destruction of the Court House by fire, in 1758, recalled 
the attention of the town to the subject, and in February follow- 
ing an act of the Assembly was passed giving the town power 
to appoint presidents of firewards, and firewards. 

The rate for their engine was paid in April, 1759, though the 
engine was purchased some time before. In December, 1760, the 
town authorized the purchase of another engine in Boston, and 



engine men were first appointed by the town in June, 1763, and 
this was the commencement of the fire department in Providence. 

The duties of the president of firewards were to superintend 
the use of gunpowder for blowing up buildings in case of fire, 
or of pulling them down, to arrest the spread of conflagrations. 
The fire wardens carried huge speaking trumpets, through which 
they shouted their orders in a tone heard above the roaring of the 
flames, the din of engine strokes, and the uproar of the surround- 
ing multitude. Their duty to preserve order was rendered more 
difficult by the common custom of drinking strong liquors from 
pails passed around and provided with handy dippers. There 
were no temperance societies in those days to moderate or control 
these excesses of the men, and the fire wardens had the double task 
of controlling fires in the buildings and also in the men. 

The citizens also formed an association for mutual assistance 
in removing furniture and valuables from destruction. Each 
member carried a sack for the removal of valuable articles from 
burning buildings, and they kept alive their organization and zeal 
by quarterly suppers and good cheer. 

In 1792 four engines had been imported from London for the 
use of the fire department. No. 1 was stationed on North Main 
Street, opposite the First Baptist Church ; No. 2 at the south end 
of Benefit Street ; No. 3 at the north end, and No. 4 on Wey- 
bosset Street where Dorrance Street is now located. They were 
rude, oblong, plank boxes mounted on small wheels or rollers, 
made of solid plank, turning on axles at. each corner of the box, 
and steered by a tail-like lever behind when drawn by ropes 
hooked to the forward corners. Each had two brass cylinders 
for pistons worked by side bars, and a vertical air vessel sur- 
mounted by a platform on which the pipe director stood while 
holding the pipe. Sewed leather hose was used which burst so 
easily and was so poor that the firemen avoided using it as much 
as possible. They were also provided with suction hose of 
leather for self-supply, but so porous was the leather that water 
could not be lifted more than five or six feet in it, and conse- 
quently the suction pipes were never used. 

For these reasons the engines were stationed near the fire and 
the water was supplied to them by buckets passed by men ar- 
ranged in a double line, one for handing the full buckets and the 
other for returning them to be refilled. This arrangement was 
called " forming a lane," and it was the primary duty of the fire 
wardens to keep up the water supply. 

" The following are the Rules and Regulations for the Gov- 
ernment of the Inhabitants of the Town of Providence, 
in Cases of Fire, as reported by a Committee, and adopted 
by the Town, at their Meeting holden by Adjournment on 
the Fourteenth Day of February, A. D. 1801. 
44 First. That upon the cry of Fire, every person give information (if 
within his knowledge) -where the Fire is; and that the several Sextons re- 
pair immediately to their respective meeting-houses, and ring the bells until 
the fire be extinguished. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



19 



" Second. The Engine-Men, the two attending Fire- Wards, and the 
Watermen, should repair immediately to their respective engines, and con- 
duct them with dispatch to the fire. The Wardens are to see that the pipe, 
suction, hose, buckets, copper pump, and all other apparatus thereto be- 
longing, be forwarded with the engine. 

" Third. That all other able-bodied male inhabitants repair immediately 
with the buckets belonging to their respective families, to the fire; taking 
care, if in the night, to put on their clothes before they go out; and everv 
house should have lights put in the windows, and carefully attended until 
the fire is extinguished, and the people returning. 

44 Fourth. That the thirty house and ship-carpenters, annually ap- 
pointed for taking down buildings, &c. have the care of the fire-hooks, 
ropes, ladders, axes, saws, crow-bars, and shovels, and immediately con- 
vey them to the fire, and there exert themselves to extinguish the same, 
under the direction of the Presidents and Fire- Wards ; and they are to 
meet the day after their appointment, and elect one to be their Chief, and 
such other officers as they may think proper; and to consult and agree 
on the best method to speedily convey the' apparatus under their care to 
fires, and of using the same when there in the most effectual manner: — 
Their badge of office shall be the leather cases of the axes, painted white. 

"Fifth. The Presidents should each have, and take with them, a 
trumpet painted white, and the Fire- Wards, each, one painted red, as their 
badge of office, and that they may be the better heard and understood. 
And let all who have a right to command at fires, take great care to appear 
calm and firm, and give their orders and directions with clearness and 
authority, and be careful not to contradict each other. 

'* Sixth. When the people are assembled at fires, let them be silent, 
that they may hear the directions of those whose right it is to give orders ; * 
and let them be executed with the utmost alacrity, without noise or contra- 
diction. 

41 Seventh. Let none vainly imagine that the great authority given to 
the Presidents, Fire- Wards, and others at fires, is, that they may domineer 
over their neighbors ; this is not the case, but authority and order are abso- 
lutely necessary, and the safety of the whole thereon depends; and there- 
fore ought to be cheerfully submitted to, and willingly obeyed, on these 
extraordinary occasions. 

44 Eighth. The twelve suitable persons appointed for the removal of 
goods, shall each have authority to give orders, and command assistance 
for the removal, preservation and safe keeping of goods; and though the 
owners of goods may pack them up in order for removal, yet none of them 
should be ordered out, except of houses actually on fire, unless by the di- 
rection of the owner, or of some one of the said persons, who should be 
careful to give seasonable orders, that they may be carried a proper dis- 
tance to windward of the fire, that no goods be lost which can be removed. 
The badge of this class of officers shall be a white wand or staff, of six feet, 
which they are to take with them. 

• 4 Ninth. In point of authority and subordination, the Presidents of the 
Fire- Wards have the supreme executive over all the fire officers, and are 
to call upon whomsoever they judge proper, for aids, messengers or assis- 
tants, in time of fires. The Fire-Wards are to attend to the general sub- 
ject of extinguishing and preventing the spreading of fire, direct the stands 
and operations of the engines, forming of lanes for conveying of water, 
further the exertions of every department, and encourage the citizens at 
large in active and persevering attention to the preservation of the lives 
and property of their fellow-citizens in immediate danger, and the general 
safety and interest of the town. They are to meet at the Council-Chamber 
the day after their appointment, annually, and afterwards as often as they 
may judge proper, to select two of their number to pay particular atten- 
tion to each engine, and see that they are supplied with water, and the En- 
gine-Men duly assisted with frequent, sufficient, and fresh aid to work the 
engines, and to confer on the general subject of preserving the town from 
fires, and the best method of extinguishing them, in concert with the Presi- 
dents, who are requested to meet with them, and appoint such other times 
for general conference and consultation on this interesting subject as they 
may judge proper. 

44 Tenth. The Engine-Men are to keep near the engines ; to be always 
in readiness, under the direction of their respective captains, whom they 
shall appoint, to remove the engines from place to place ; to work them 
with or without suction, with or without hose; to convey water from the 
river, fountains or wells, to other engines ; to give place to or exchange 
stands with other engines, as the Fire-Wards may direct; and at all times 





THE PRIMITIVE FIRE APPARATUS OF 
PROVIDENCE. 



UNION NO. 3. 
Ont of tht tarlitst Engines used in Providence. 



to keep the engines and appa- 
ratus in good order, fit for use, at 
the town s expense ; and the cap- 
tains are to name, at every fire, 
one or more of their respective 
companies to have particular 
care of the hose, suction and ap- 
paratus immediately connected 
with the engines; to see that 
they are kept in safety from the 
fire, and ready for instant use. 

44 Eleventh. That the Town- 
Sergeant, for the time being, 
cause all the buckets left, after 
every fire shall be extinguished, 
to be forthwith carried at the 
town's expense to the Market- 
House, before night, if there be 
time, if not, the next day. 

44 Twelfth. The Presidents 
of the Fire-Wards, as often as 
they judge proper, at least once 
a year, are to give public notice 
to all the fire officers under ap- 
pointment by the town, and all 
other inhabitants that are free to 
attend with their buckets, to 
punctually collect the several 
engines, at the time and place 
they shall assign, in order to go 
through all the necessary man- 
oeuvres usually required with 
the apparatus used in extinguish- 
ing fires, for their own improve- 
ment by experience, and for the instruction of the rising generation. 

" Thirteenth. When people begin to assemble at a fire, before the en- 
gines or any appointed authority arrive, they should not wait for orders, but 
immediately proceed to carry water from the nearest and most convenient 
place they Know of, to the fire ; and as soon as more are assembled than 
can get convenient access to the fire, they should begin to form a lane from 
the fire to the most convenient place for water, and from thence towards 
the fire. The youth who are not able to endure the fatigue of handing full 
buckets, should all form on that side of the lane that brings their right 
hand towards the water, and their left towards the fire, this being the side 
for returning the empty buckets, and where they may perform the service of 
men. When more water can be procured from the place where the first 
lane is formed than one row of buckets will convey, let a double lane be 
formed, by adding a third row of men on the outside of the youth's row or 
that which returns the empty buckets, and let every other person in the 
youth's row face about towards the new-formed row, that they may with 
more convenience pass the empty buckets to the water as fast as the two 
rows of full buckets require, until more people arrive to form another row. 
And as water is passed much easier, in buckets as well as hose, down hill 
than up, care should be taken to bring it from higher ground, when it can 
be got at nearly equal distances. 

A true Copy: Witness, 

NATHAN W. JACKSON, Town Clerk. 
Providence, February 20, 1801. 

Before street lamps were introduced in Providence, in 1819, 
the trouble of the inefficient light of the tin lanterns was some- 
what lessened by a law requiring all citizens to place lighted 
candles in their windows in times of fire at night, and later was 
greatly improved by the use of torches by the fire companies as 
more effective substitutes for the dim glimmer of the tin lanterns. 

Boys commenced service in the fire department by handing the 
empty buckets, and in early times active women sometimes as- 
sisted in this duty in cases of great danger. So much of the water 
was slopped over and wasted in passing the buckets along the 
lines that the supply was not sufficient to keep the engines going 
steadily, and the small amount of water thrown on the fire was so 
ineffectual that the burning building was generally left to its fate, 
and all efforts devoted to wetting down and saving endangered 
surrounding structures, which the firemen deemed the best use of 
these crude engines. 

Volunteers were then induced to serve in fire companies by 
exemption from both militia and jury duty, but so many alleged 
firemen evaded their duty with trivial excuses to escape the fines 
and penalties inflicted for violation of the rules and non-attend- 
ance at roll calls and regular meetings, to avoid which vexatious 
shirks some of the companies established as a by-law, that 44 no 
excuse for non-attendance shall be received except a certificate 
from a physician or undertaker ! " 

Mr. Zachariah Allen, who was first elected a member of the 



Digitized by 



Google 



120 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



town council in 1822, being greatly impressed with the crudeness 
and inefficiency of the fire department immediately began a strenuous 
and successful effort to improve it, and a town-meeting was soon 
held which appointed Zachariah Allen and Elisha Dyer, Sr., a 
special committee to procure a more efficient fire-engine and appa- 
ratus. Messrs. Sellers and Pennock, of Philadelphia, the engine 
builders, who invented and patented the first copper riveted hose 
in 18 18, after requisite correspondence, furnished the town with 
its first really efficient fire-engine, which was a very greatly im- 
proved substitute for the bucket line system, pumping through 
a long line of hose, and projecting water much farther than was 
possible before. 

This new engine was so powerful that it required thirty-six 
firemen to fully man and operate it, and with it were secured 1 ,000 
feet of the new copper-riveted hose, a copper suction pipe with 
folding joints, with other requisite fixtures and appurtenances, 
making it the most complete and powerful automatic, self-sup- 
plying fire-engine then invented, and capable of lifting water from 
the river and discharging it on a building on fire a thousand feet 
distant, thus enabling thirty-six men to do more effective work 
than six hundred men, women, and boys under the old system. 

All the doubts and fears then prevailing among the firemen rela- 
tive to the power and ability of the new engine were very effect- 
ually settled and dispelled by its first practical trial, when it was 
stationed on the wharf at the foot of Steeple Street on North 
Water Street, now Canal, with hose laid up Steeple, Thomas, 
and Angell streets to the house of the late William Almy, and 
drawing water from the Cove eight feet through the suction pipe, 
it forced it through the long line of hose up hill the entire dis- 
tance, with such force as to easily throw a good-sized stream over 
the chimney of Mr. Almy's house. The original cost of the new 
engine was $725, but its subsequent elaborate ornamentation, at 
the expense of the company, increased it to $3,000. The com- 
pany voted to name it the " Hydraulion," under which title both 
machine and company were very illustrious in their way and day. 
The handsome gilded eagle that was one of its most prominent 
ornaments, is now a valued relic in the hall of the Veteran Fire- 
men's Association. 

The first fire where it was practically used, was in a large 
stable on Westminster Street, near the present site of the Butler Ex- 
change, (which burned so fiercely that Mr. James, a venerable citi- 
zen, dropped dead at the sight,) when several citizens aided in lay- 
ing the hose and placing the suction pipe in the Cove and the 
Hydraulion speedily put a stream on the now raging fire, and so 
quickly extinguished the fire without the use of buckets as before, 




HYDRAULION NO. I. 

The first successful Suction Engine used in the United States. Built for the town of Providence, 

under the direction of Zachariah Allen and Elisha Dyer, Sr., in 1822. 



as to win universal approval of the new machine and method, 
completely establishing the new, and abolishing the old system of 
extinguishing fires. 

The introduction of this improved system made an era in the 
history of the Providence fire department, and of all the United 
States also, for it was the first successful and complete suction fire- 
engine yet made, far excelling and superseding all preceding fire- 
engines and systems ; in fact, the only real improvement since 
made to it are in matters of detail and the substitution of steam 
for manual power, with the greater gain of saving men as well as 
money. 

The citizens were all delighted by the success of their new fire 
apparatus. Major Quincy, of Boston, hearing of its famous suc- 
cess, came to Providence to inspect the operation of it, and he at 
once induced the city authorities to adopt the new system for the 
future service of the Boston fire department. 

A large company of the most influential and wealthy citizens 
was promptly formed to work the new engine. Gen. Edward Car- 
rington was elected foreman, and George Curtis, clerk, and the 
roll of its members contained the names of Moses B. and Robert 
H. Ives, Zachariah Allen, Thomas C. Hoppin, Elisha Dyer, Jr., 
Thomas Aldrich, Alexander F. Adie, Amos D. Smith, Amos M. 
Warner, Thomas Harkness, Anthony B. Arnold, and others, ot 
whom Elisha Dyer, Thomas Harkness, and Amos M. Warner, are 
prominent survivors. 

The engine was located in a one-story wooden building, a 
tower in the rear, erected on spiles over the water for elevating 
and drying the hose, at the north end of Hydraulion Street, now 
Exchange, between Robert Murray's turner shop and Joseph Fen- 
ner's stone yard. This building having no accommodations for 
the company's meetings or comfort, a two-story brick building 
was erected on the east side of Exchange Street, between the 
store formerly occupied by Cornett & Nightingale and the Hamil- 
ton building, where all company meetings were held in a large 
hall in the upper story, which was very attractively furnished and 
decorated by the company. Hydraulion Company No. i created 
and sustained a very earnest esprit de corps. 

This engine was disposed of in 1849, after twenty-seven years' 
active service, and replaced by a machine of similar design, built 
by John Agnew, of Philadelphia, which remained in service un- 
til 1855, when it was sold to the Messrs. Sprague at the Cranston 
Print Works, and a smaller engine purchased for the company's 
use, built by L. Button & Company, of Waterford, N. Y., and 
known in the fireman's parlance of that day as a "Button Tub." 

An event occurred of great interest to the firemen, as shown in 
the records of a meeting of No. 4 Engine Company, held Dec. 
28, 1829, to hear a memorial read on a threatened prosecution 
of all firemen not complying with the so-called u Fire Bucket 
Laws," a subject which then greatly excited the entire depart- 
ment. This memorial, addressed " To the Firemen of the 
Town of Providence," and complaining of injustice to the firemen, 
was prepared by W. Coleman, John R. Shearman, and Reily 
Brown, committee ; after a very warm discussion and the free 
use of strong language and spicy epithets, a large majority voted 
to publish the memorial. The five voting in the minority being 
refused the privilege of signing the memorial as opposers of it, 
demanded a vote of expulsion from the company, which was 
granted with gratifying qualifications, as the following record 
shows: " A motion was then made that W. Earle, C. Ellery, Ira 
B. Winsor, G. A. Humphrey, and C. B. Arnold be voted from 
this company sine die, which was carried. We would add this : 
As citizens we respect them." 

The first hook and ladder company was established in 1820. 

The "Firemen's Relief Association," which was incorporated 
in 1829, upon the petition of Amasa Manton, Benjamin Dyer, 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



121 



and Zachariah Allen, for the benefit of disabled firemen, with an 
authorized capital of $20,000, worthily and successfully accom- 
plishes its benevolent purposes. 

The first force pumps ever used in this city, made to replace 
the bucket system, was designed and built by Albert H. Man- 
chester and John T. Jackson, brass founders and machinists, 
located on Broad Street, and proved the most efficient water works 
yet devised for the city, and were operated by manual power 
applied to brakes, the first pump being located on Broad, near 
Mathewson Street. There were sixteen of these force pumps, 
seven on the east side and nine on the west side, placed in the 
most effective and convenient locations. Benjamin Dyer, Jr., a 
•prominent man in his time, who caused the first of these pumps 
to be built on Broad Street, also organized a volunteer company 
of firemen to operate it, the first meeting being held at his house, 
and Jacob Manchester was elected first captain. A thousand 
feet of hose, with carriage, and a hose house with drying tower 
were secured, the house being located on Middle, now Chapel 
Street; the company was named the " Invincible, No. 2," and at 
one time numbered ninety men ; Albert H. Manchester was 
second captain, who afterwards served in the volunteer depart- 
ment for seventeen years with but one absence from roll-call. 
No. 1 company, u Canopus," was located on Benefit, near College 
Street. This system of water supply for fire purposes was used 
until superseded and extinguished by suction engines. 

Reports of presidents of fire wards for 1834-5 snow tna * * ne 
department then comprised 546 men and 8 hand engines, 2 
hydraulions, 8 hose carriages, 15 stationary forcing pumps, 2 
hook and ladder trucks, 14 ladders, 22 axes, 5,194 feet of leading 
hose, 38 ice creepers, 118 fire buckets, etc. Companies located as 
follows: Company No. 1, John Branch, captain, 27 men, foot 
of Bennett's Hill, Olneyville ; Company No. 2, Luther Angell, 
captain, 26 men, junction of North Main and Stampers streets, 
Constitution Hill ; Union, No. 3, Henry L. Kendall, captain, 41 
men, Weybosset, near Dorrance Street ; Gazelle, No. 4, Henry 
D. Beckford, captain, 22 men, Transit, near Benefit Street; 
Phoenix, No. 5, William L. Thornton, captain, 34 men, Summer 
Street; Water Witch, No. 6, Joseph W. Taylor, captain, 46 men, 
corner of College and Benefit streets ; Engine Company No. 7, 
Pardon S. Pearce, captain, 24 men, Field's Street, now Richmond, 
south of Ship. Hydraulion Company No. 1, Amos D. Smith, 
captain, 103 men, Hydraulion Street, now Exchange Street ; 
Hydraulion Company No. 2, Allen Baker, captain, 50 men, Canal 
Street, near Hay market ; Forcing pump, Invincible Hose, No. 2, 
Albert H. Manchester, captain, 80 men, Middle, now Chapel 
Street ; Forcing pump, Canopus, No. 1, Roger W. Potter, captain, 
54 men, Town House lot, College and Benefit streets ; Hook and 
Ladder Company, No. 1, Stanton Thurber, captain, 88 men, corner 
of Benefit and College streets : Hook and Ladder Company, No. 2, 
Shelden Young, captain, 21 men on Union Street. Reservoirs: 
one at Stow's Pond, one at the Ravine on Federal Street. Foun- 
tains : Rawson's, near Dean's tan yard ; Field's, between Friend- 
ship and Clifford streets. These fountains were used by the 
hydraulions in case of fire. The report says that " water had 
been conveyed by a forcing pump and hydraulion 2,500 feet and 
supplied an engine in thirty minutes from the first alarm." Also, 
that a new suction engine is contracted for, to be located at Eddy's 
Point. Value of the buildings and apparatus was then estimated 
at thirty thousand dollars. 

By 1842 the department had largely increased, and then con- 
sisted of three presidents of fire wards, eighteen fire wards, and 
600 firemen belonging to the several companies. The entire ex- 
pense for that year was $4,748.84. In September, 1847, a nouse 
was built in the rear of Codding Street, west of Hoyle Tavern, 
and a new company established there, with old engine No. 7, 



\*^i 




HYDRAULION NO. I. 
Second Engine of the name built for this Company. 

renewed, and called Hope No. 10, afterwards the Atlantic. In 
the fall of 1848, Robert Manchester, Jr., Daniel E. Carpenter 
and Thomas J. Hill, a committee of the city council, sold the old 
wooden house of No. 7 company, and built them a new one of 
brick, 28x40 feet, two stories, corner of Richmond and Tippe- 
canoe streets, and in August of that year the city council appro- 
priated $1,400 for a new engine for Hydraulion Company No. 1. 
In 1849, William Jeffers, of Pawtucket, built a powerful new fire- 
engine for No. 9 company, called the " Gaspee," which became 
very famous all over New England, winning prizes in almost 
every contest it entered. This veteran machine was drawn by 
the veterans in the firemen's division at the celebration of the 
250th anniversary, June 24th last, and since then has been pur- 
chased by the Veteran Association, who will preserve and cherish 
it as a noted and valuable relic of their volunteer days and nights. 

The volunteer fire department reached the zenith of its fame in 
1852, when it possessed new and expensive engines of the most 
effective design and costly make, elaborately and expensively 
adorned with gold and silver decorations and paintings ; handsome 
halls, furnished richly as parlors, for social and other meetings ; 
brilliant and showy uniforms, and withal a lively spirit of rivalry 
and emulation in each company to excel and lead all others in 
these points. These luxuries, with the added expenses of splen- 
did parades, receptions, and excursions of those days, sometimes 
cost the lavish firemen more than they could well afford. 

In July, 1853, tne board of fire wards was abolished, the 
office of chief engineer created, and Joseph W. Taylor was the 
first man elected to fill that position. During the year strife 
and contentions prevailed between the firemen and the heads of 
the department, and at the Arnold block fire, Oct. 11, 1853, 
occurred the fight between the members of Niagara No. 2 com- 
pany, and Gaspee No. 9, which resulted in the death of Neil 
Dougherty, of No. 9 company, which excited such universal 
comment and general censure of the volunteer department that 
it was soon after abolished and the new paid fire department 
system permanently established. In November, 1S53, the city 
council appointed Councilmen William Goddard, Abram Payne, 
and Walter Paine, Jr., with Alderman Joseph F. Gilmore, a 
committee to report an ordinance establishing a paid fire depart- 
ment, and January 25th this joint committee reported to the 
council an ordinance for the purpose that was adopted. 

This report, after reviewing the whole subject and giving the 
best reported results of several paid fire departments as then pre- 
vailing in Europe and in this country, and the new steam fire- 



Digitized by 



Google 



122 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




THE FIREMEN'S STATUE. 
North Burial Ground. 



engines in use in Cincin- 
nati, in contrast with the 
results secured by the volun- 
teer system in Providence, 
strongly advocated abolish- 
ing the volunteer system, 
and establishing in its place 
a paid fire department. The 
report was accepted and the 
council voted to make the 
change it recommended. 

A convention, or indig- 
nation meeting of the fire- 
men was soon after held, at 
which the report adopted 
was severely criticised, and 
after a very exciting discus- 
sion, on motion, the meeting 
voted unanimously that on 
the first day of March, 1854, 
the foreman of the different 
companies, excepting Moo- 
shausic No. 2, a new com- 
pany, should deliver to the 
chief engineer, at Hydrau- 
lion No. 1 house, Exchange 
street, the keys of all the 
engine-houses, and all other 
department property in 
their possession, and declare 
through their officers that 
they withdrew themselves from, and ended all connection with, 
the fire department. This was the last act of the volunteer fire- 
men and ended their existence. Though there were unavoidably 
some reckless men among the many volunteer firemen, the ma- 
jority were inspired by the highest motives to labor for the public 
good, and deserved the high honors they won, the record they 
made, and the memories cherished by every veteran and citizen 
of those days. 

The board of fire wards reorganized the department under the 
new system and had put it into working order by April 1st, and 
Sept. 1st, 1854, a new ordinance went into effect establishing 
a board of engineers, consisting of a chief engineer and five 
assistants and 450 firemen. The first annual review of the new 
paid department was held on Exchange Place, Oct. 22, 1855, 
when Mayor James Y. Smith complimented the firemen on the 
fewer fires and the much smaller loss resulting from their effec- 
tive work under the new system. October 3 1 st, the first chief was 
presented by the firemen with a silver trumpet in token of their 
esteem. The board of engineers in April, 1859, contracted for 
two steam fire-engines, first with Reaney, Neaffe & Company, of 
Philadelphia, and second with Silsby, Mynderse & Company, of 
Seneca Falls, N. Y., at a cost of $3,500, and these new steamers 
were tested September 19th, and accepted by the city authorities. 
The entire mechanical force of the department, June 1, i860, com- 
prised three steam fire-engines, seven hand-engines, hooks, ladders, 
carriage force pump, hydrants, and other necessary apparatus and 
implements. This year the council appropriated $1,000 to erect the 
fire alarm telegraph invented by Councilman Charles E. Carpen- 
ter, a veteran fireman, consisting of a single line of No. 8 galvan- 
ized wire connecting all the engine-houses with the bell-ringing 
stations, the entire line being about four miles long, cost less than 
eight hundred dollars, and worked effectively for ten years, until 
the Gamewell fire alarm system was introduced in December, 
1870. During 1863, a new engine-house was built on Haymar- 



ket Street for a new steamer and hook and ladder truck, built by 
Moulton & Remington, of this city. In March, 1866, the city 
council appropriated $34,000 to purchase four new steam fire- 
engines, four hose carriages, two hook and ladder trucks, and 
7,000 feet of leading hose. 

By June i, 1867, four new engine-houses, two new hook and 
ladder stations, with all the accommodations and requisites for 
both firemen and horses, were completed and occupied in the 
following-named locations: first ward, No. 5, North Main, head 
of Randall Street ; second ward, No. 6, Benevolent Street ; fifth 
ward, No. 7, Richmond Street; eighth ward, No. 8, Harrison 
Street. With these improvements completed, the remaining five 
hand-engine companies were disbanded, and a complete steam 
fire department established comprising eight steam fire-engines, 
three hook and ladder trucks, and a force of 117 officers and 
men. Below is given a complete list of the hand-engines of both 
the volunteer and paid departments, with the location, number, 
name, and changes in the name, and motto of each. 

1. Hydraulion, J. W. Taylor; Exchange Street. "Always Ready." 

2. Cascade, Niagara, Mooshausic; North Main Street, near junction of 

Benefit, moved to Mill Street. " Believing in equality; we 
acknowledge no superior." 

2. Hydraulion, Columbia, (12); Haymarket Street. "Our food, fire; 

our drink, water." 

3. Union, S. C. Blodget, Union; Broad and Page streets. •• Excelsior." 

4. Gazelle, John B. Chace; Benefit, Transit, and Wickenden streets. 

" Our duty, our delight." 

5. Fire King; Summer Street. " 'Mid the raging flames the Fire King 

reigns." 

6. Water Witch; Benefit, near College. " Actuated by benevolence; 

impelled by emulation." 

7. Star, Patrick Henry, Blue Pointer, Ocean; Chestnut Street and 

Richmond Street. "We conquer to save." 

8. What Cheer; Benefit Street, near Transit "We seek but thanks 

for duty duly done." 

9. Express, Gaspee; Carpenter, near Dean and Pallas streets. " Where 

duty calls there you will find us." 

10. Hope, Atlantic; Codding and Knight streets. " We came, we 

saw, we conquered." 

11. Pioneer; South Main, near Power Street. "Onward." 

The first serious accident to the new department occurred Sept. 
20, 1870, at a fire at the corner of Cooke and Benevolent streets, 
when the boiler of steamer No. 6 exploded, and fatally injured 
Assistant Engineer John H. McLean and a citizen named 
George T. Benson. 

The Providence water works were completed, and water was 
first introduced into the city Nov. 30, 1871, thus securing an 
abundant and unfailing supply of water for all fire purposes, 
with improved hydrants at every available location, and with suf- 
ficient pressure to reach all points with water to extinguish fires, 
excepting in the most elevated sections of the city. 

This new and full water supply superseded almost entirely the 
steam fire-engines which were afterwards held in reserve for emer- 
gencies, and only used since as occasion required. During 1882, 
two chemical engines were added to the service, one located at the 
Benevolent Street station, and the other at the Richmond Street 
station, and during this year the office of deputy chief engi- 
neer was created, and George A. Steere was the first elected to 
fill the office. 

The city council in March, 1885, adopted an ordinance abolish- 
ing the board of engineers, and transferring all its powers and 
duties to the chief engineer and the joint standing committee 
of the council on the fire department. March 19, 1885, Assistant 
Engineer Holden O. Hill was elected deputy chief engineer. 

The fire alarm telegraph system, which now numbers 149 sig- 
nal boxes in all, is in the charge of Charles G. Cloudman, ex- 
foreman of Hose No. 1, elected superintendent in March, 1883, 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



123 



under whose supervision it has been kept in excellent working 
order, greatly increasing the efficiency of the department. 

The present entire manual force of the fire department com- 
prises 210 men in active service, with five steam fire-engines, 
twelve hose carriages, three hose wagons, six hook and ladder 
trucks, two chemical engines, one protective wagon, fourteen ex- 
ercising wagons, with all the horses and apparatus and appli- 
ances required for the most speedy and effective use of the depart- 
ment, which has earned, and now sustains a position and repu- 
tation for celerity, efficiency, and discipline not excelled by any 
similar organization in the entire country. 

At the municipal celebration of the 250th anniversary on the 
24th of June last, the firemen's division in the procession, with 
their antique engines and other ancient fire apparatus, represent- 
ing so effectually and strikingly the historic progress made in 
the methods of extinguishing fires, attracted great attention and 
earnest and enthusiastic appreciation along the entire line of 
march, as one of the most noted features of the day. This fine 
display was excellently arranged by a committee of the Veteran 
Firemen Association, as shown in the order of the procession in 
the programme of the day. 

Since the office of chief engineer was established in 1853, the 
following-named gentlemen have filled the position as stated 
below : 

Joseph W. Taylor, from July 11, 1853, to June, 1859. 
Thomas Aid rich, from June, 1859, to June, 1862. 

Charles H. Dunham, from June, 1862, to July io, 1865. Resigned from 
illness. 
Dexter Gorton, from July 10, 1865, to June, 1869. 
Oliver E. Greene, from June, 1869, to July, 1884. 
George A. Steere, elected July, 1884, and still holds the office. 

The following is a complete list of the names of the offices, 
officers, and members of the Providence fire department at the 
present time : 

Chief engineer, George A. Steere ; deputy chief engineer, Holden O. 
Hill; first assistant engineer, James M.Baker; second assistant engineer, 
Stephen S. Shepard; third assistant engineer, Leander M. Walling; fourth 
assistant engineer, James Golding; fire alarm telegraph, City Hall : super- 
intendent, Charles G. Cloudman ; battery man, Nathaniel G. Totten ; line- 
man, Leander D. Dawley. 

Hose Company, No. 1. — Washington: foreman, James M. Curtis, Jr. ; 
assistant foreman, William H. Rounds; hosemen, John W. Morrow, 
Thomas F. McNeal, Thomas F. Sisson, Robert Nichol, Earl C. Downing; 
driver, George Barbour. 

Hose Company, No. 2. — Pioneer: foreman, Lewis A. Cutler; assis- 
tant foreman, Thomas J. Colburn; hosemen, Thomas R. Farrell, Alpheus 
Read, Herman F. Fischer, Charles W. Peck, Henry Charlwood ; driver, 
John E. Carlin. 

Hose Company, No. 3. — Fire King: foreman, Oscar F. Millett; assis- 
tant foreman, Thomas McCoid; hosemen, Nicholas B. Duff, Frederick S. 
French, William A. Sawin, Ira B. Booth, Edward Warner; driver, James 
H. Morrissey. 

Hose Company, No. 4. — Franklin: foreman, Henry R. Beehler; assis- 
tant foreman, George A. Church; hosemen, John H. Cook, Thomas F. 
Edwards, Charles C. Smith, George H. Noon, Charles G. Ingraham; 
driver, George C. Woodbury. 

Steam Fire Engine Company, No. 5. — Niagara : foreman, Isaac L. 
Blackmar; assistant foreman, John H. Goulding ; hosemen, Daniel Bur- 
dick, John G. Mcintosh, William H. Myers, Benjamin N. Brown, Murdock 





WATER WITCH, NO. 6. THE FIRE HOSE REEL. 

Used in the later days of the Volunteer Fire Department. 



OCEAN, NO. 7. 
Type of Engine used by the Volunteer Fire Department of Providence. 

C. McKenzie, John Hutchinson; steamer driver, John R. Babcock; ten- 
der driver, Frederick L. Capron. 

Hose Company, No. 6. —Water Witch: foreman, Thomas W. D. 
Reynolds ; assistant foreman, Henry A. Wilkey; hosemen, Daniel P. 
Douglas, Granville M. Borden, Daniel C. Goff, Edward D. Fuller; driver, 
Edmund B. Peck. 

Hose Company, No. 7.— Ocean : foreman, Horace P. Griswold ; assistant 
foreman, John H. Capron ; hosemen, James A. Major, Archibald Martin, 
Abner G. Allen, William E. Smith ; driver, David McGale. 

Steam Fire Engine Company, No. 8.— Atlantic: foreman, Joseph H. 
Penno; assistant foreman, Merrill E. Hicks; hosemen, Telesford Stahl, 
Charles W. Higgins, John A. Vaughan, Robert D. Spencer, John H. 
Cottrell, John P. Fuller; steamer driver, Frank E. Taber; tender driver, 
John L. Mathewson. 

Hose Company, No. 9. —John W. Tillinghast: foreman, Philip W. 
Kelly; assistant foreman, William A.Walker; hosemen, John F. Pierce, 
Henry M. Briggs, Charles R. Burke, John F. Braids, John S. Campbell; 
driver, Frank H. Munroe. 

Steam Fire Engine Company, No. 10. — Washington : foreman, Fran- 
cis D. Chester; assistant foreman, Thomas Branigan; hosemen, George 
Hunt, William A. Slocum, Jeremiah W Miller, Edwin C. Arnold; steamer 
driver, Byron I. Keech ; tender driver, John A. Worth. 

Hose Company, No. 11. — Elmwood: foreman, Frederic H. Field; 
assistant foreman, Benjamin F. Harrington; hosemen, Edward T. Maher, 
Walter R. D. Vaughan, John H. Brown, Charles F. Eldridge; driver, 
Alonzo B. Clark. 

Steam Fire Engine Company, No. 12. — Stillman White: foreman, 
George F. Battey ; assistant foreman, Benjamin F. Clark : hosemen, Ben- 
jamin F. Worsley, Thomas H. Jenckes, George A. Sayer, Le Roy R. Whit- 
man, Charles A. Cook, George E. Jenckes; steamer driver, Joseph W. 
Smith ; tender driver, Edward Meegan. 

Hose Company, No. 13.— Good Will : foreman, Hiram D. Butts; assis- 
tant foreman, Lewis A. Lusignan; hosemen, John S. Little, William H. 
Porter, Nicholas Waterman, Everard E. Goff, Richard N. Sewall; driver, 
Walter H. Durfee. 

Steam Fire Engine Company, No. 14.— General Putnam: foreman, 
William H. Glassgow; assistant foreman, Robert G. Haskins; hosemen, 
James F. Magi nn, Joseph E. Shaw, John F. Chapman, John B. Corcoran, 
William J. White; steamer driver, Peter Greene; tender driver, John 
Casey, Jr. 

Hose Company, No. 15.— What Cheer: foreman, William H.Johnson; 
assistant foreman, Charles T. Mitchell; hosemen, Edward W. Hall, 
William Patterson, Otis P. Underwood, Frank H. Dodge, John H. Witch- 
ell ; driver, Frank B. French. 

Hook and Ladder Company, No. 1.— Hayes: foreman, Charles E. 
White; assistant foreman, Thomas Nichol; laddermen, William L. 
Prosser, Lewis H. Streeter, Elwyn A. Wood, Edmund G. White, Richard 
M. Young, Moses Pine, Gilbert J. Lewis; tillerman, Zenas B. Sprague; 
driver, Howard E. Sherburne. 

Hook and Ladder Company, No. 2. — Gaspee : foreman, William H. 
McGrath; assistant foreman, Leonard N. Austin; laddermen, William H. 
Garvin, Solomon F. Searle, Thomas Atkinson, Orin S. Mowry, James 
Ragan, Alexander Stewart, Charles Wilcox, Joseph W. Carpenter; driver, 
Thomas H. Atwood. 

Hook and Ladder Company, No. 3.— Union: foreman, James C. Hub- 
bard; assistant foreman, George Golding; laddermen, James Dowling, 
William H. Buffum, George W. Mereweather, Edwin H. Day, J. Frank 
Stackpole, Benjamin N. Burbank, William H. Holbrook; driver, Thomas 
J. Donovan. 

Hook and Ladder Company, No. 4. —John B. Chace : foreman, 
George J. Gammill; assistant foreman, Burdett L. Vaughn; laddermen, 
John L. Hilliard, Frank Kenny, Thomas M. Dawson, John R. Sherman, 
Joseph Little, James R. Davis, Gordon Kerr, Clarence H. Lovell; driver, 
Patrick Mulvey. 



Digitized by 



Google 



124 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



Hook and Ladder Company, No. 5. — William H. Luther: foreman, 
Benson W.Johnson; assistant foreman, Henry E. Simmons; laddermen, 
Henry W. Wallace, William Dolan, Henry J. Bemis, Henry B. Hall, Joseph 
A. Wells, Thomas H. Mullen, Crawford A. Cornell; driver, Walter H. 
Sherburne. 

Hook and Ladder Company, No. 6. — Hayes : foreman, Charles J. Con- 
nor; assistant foreman, Thomas H. Duffy; ladddermen, Joseph Farrell, 
William F. Mulgrew, Frank E. Atkinson, Matthew McCartin, Hugh F. 
Stratton, William E. Sullivan; tillerman, William W. Kelly; driver, 
James McCartin. 

Chemical Engine No. 1. — Hosemen, Adeibert Hopkins, William F. 
Gavitt; driver, Charles Baker. 

Chemical Engine No. 2. — Hoseman, William H. Salisbury; driver, 
Reuben D. Weekes. 

Providence Protective Company, No. 1, organized Feb. 1, 1875: fore- 
man, Charles H. Swan; assistant foreman, David G. Knott; members, 
Charles E. Wilcox, Calvin L. Nye, John W. Allerton, Thomas W. 
Greene, John H. May; driver, George A. Bugbee. 

Providence Association of Firemen, officers for the year 1886: president, 
James Golding; vice-president, Benson W. Johnson; secretary, Edward 
W. Hall; treasurer, Charles H. Swan; relief committee, Edward W. Hall, 
Charles H. Swan, Robert Nichol ; resource committee, Daniel P. Douglas, 
Richard M. Young, John S. Little; finance committee, Benjamin F. Wors- 
ley, Horace P. Griswold, Charles J. Connor; committee on burial lot, 
James Golding, William H. McGrath, Thomas McCoid. 

Joint committee of the city council of the fire department. — Chair- 
man, Ira Winsor; committee, James Randall, Ephraim B. Moulton, Dex- 
ter Gorton, Stillman White. 

Notable Fires in Providence. 

During the King Philip War, March 30, 1676, the settlement of Provi- 
dence was nearly destroyed when thirty houses in the north part of the 
town were burned, entailing great suffering and loss, including the partial 
destruction of the town records. 

The Court House, then located on the north side of Meeting Street, 
between Benefit and North Main was burned Dec. 24, 1758, in the evening, 
with its entire contents, including the whole collection of books belonging 
to the Providence Library Company, loss $3,600. 

The greatest fire that had then ever visited this city, commenced in the 
loft of John Corlis' large brick store, on the west side of South Main, 
nearly opposite the foot of Planet Street, at about ten o'clock, a. m., Jan. 
21, 1801, an excessively cold and windy day. Il rapidly extended along 
both sides of South Main Street, from No. 101 to 143, until it was finally 
checked and stopped, about three o'clock, p. m., by blowing up and pulling 
down several buildings to the leeward of it. It destroyed thirty-seven 
buildings in all — sixteen dwellings, ten stores, and eleven other buildings, 
filled with valuable merchandise, the loss being estimated at over three 
hundred thousand dollars, a sum that, considered in proportion to the 
taxable property of that time, was equivalent to a very much larger 
amount of money at present. 

In consequence of the heavy losses on bonded merchandise by this fire, 
Congress allowed a remission of duties; but such a multitude of petitions 
for similar losses in other places immediately followed that this was the 
only time Congress ever granted any such remission. 

An inscription recording this fire still exists over an arched doorway on 
the west side of South Main Street opposite E.ngine Station No. 2, at a 
point where the widening of the street marks the sweep of the fire. 

The First Congregational Church, on the corner of Benevolent and 
Benefit streets, was entirely destroyed by fire on the morning of June 14, 
1814, the first church burned in the town. It was a wooden edifice, with 
two towers or spires. It was said to have been fired by an insane incen- 
diary who escaped arrest. 

The First Universalist Church, formerly at the corner of Westminster 
and Union streets, was destroyed by fire, with several adjoining buildings, 
on the evening of May 24, 1825. A new church edifice was soon built, and 
occupied by the society until sold to Messrs. Cal lender, McAuslan & 
TroufJ for a site for their fine business block, and the much larger and 
finer new church was then built of brick, at the corner of Greene and 
Washington streets, which is now occupied by this society. 

On the morning of March 20, 1828. about half-past three o'clock, Mr. 
Edward S. Sheldon's auction and commission store, up town, was burned, 
and yie adjoining houses of Miss C. Allen, the Misses Towers, and Mr. 
Mowry, were seriously damaged by the same fire. The remarkable feat- 
ure of this fire was the sudden death of Mr. Joshua Weaver, a member of 
the Hydraulion Company, who was there instantly killed by a rafter fal- 
ling from the burning building which also seriously injured John Calder 
and George Weeden, hosemen. 

The hardware store of Peter Grinnell, at 17 South Main Street, was de- 
stroyed by fire in December, 1837. This is recorded and remembered as one 
of the memorable fires of the old times because the weather was so intensely 
cold as to freeze the water in the hose and disable the engines, and 
many of the firemen were very badly frost-bitten in their hands, feet, and 
ears, and it was long a noted event with the firemen of those days. 

The old '*Dorrance Street Theatre," standing on Dorrance, near Pine 
Street took fire soon after it was closed, on the night of Oct. 25, 1844, when 
its interior with valuable theatrical and other contents was entirely con- 
sumed, leaving only the bare walls of concrete standing next morning. 
Several adjoining dwellings, shops, and stables were also burned, making 
it a destructive fire with heavy losses, insurance against losses by fire not 



being so general then as now. A valuable collection of paintings was 
also burned. The celebrated " Planetarium," a very ingenious, elaborate, 
and costly mechanical model and practical illustration of the movements 
of all the planetary bodies of our system, invented and constructed by Dr. 
Dionysius Lardner, a famous scientist of that day, and exhibited in this 
country, with great renown, by Mr. George Haswell, was also burned 
with this building. 

One of the most thrilling and memorable conflagrations that has ever 
occurred in this city, involving the loss of eminent and valuable lives, 
broke out at about three o'clock on the morning of Nov. 20, 1849, m tne 
mansion house of Mrs. Anna Jenkins, situated at the corner of Benefit and 
John streets, which was built of wood and soon entirely consumed, Mrs. 
Jenkins and her oldest daughter, Sarah, perishing in the suffocating 
smoke and flames, whilst a younger daughter and son saved their lives by 
escaping from a window to the roof of the addition in the rear of the 
mansion from which they were carried to safety by the firemen. Until 
the latter told their rescuers the awful truth that their mother and sister 
were still in the house it was not known to the large company of friends 
and neighbors that had gathered there, and then they were past all human 
help with the entire house enveloped in furious flames. It was generally 
thought and said by those first arriving that all the family had escaped, 
but when it was fully realized that Mrs. Jenkins and one daughter were 
burning to death before their eyes but utterly beyond their aid, the excite- 
ment and anguish manifested by the painful moans and silent tears of the 
intensely agitated multitude of friends and witnesses, exceeded anything 
ever seen at any previous fire or other calamity in this city. The horrors of 
that dreadful night were a sad but very vivid memory to all witnesses of 
the frightful scene for years, and it is one of the city's most fearful legends 
to this day. Mrs. Jenkins was the widow of William Jenkins, one of the 
most worthy citizens of his time, and his widow was a true philanthropist 
and a most excellent Christian woman, whose whole life and means were 
devoted to the good of others, and her fearful death was universally and 
sincerely mourned by the entire city and state. The mansion was one of 
the largest and grandest then in the city ; in size, style, and all other 
respects, almost an exact duplicate of the well-known John Carter Brown 
mansion, still standing at the corner of Benefit and Williams streets. 

Messrs. Tallman & Bucklin's planing mill, in the rear of Dyer Street, 
near the Steam Mill, caught fire at noon on Sept 4, 1850, ** Commence- 
ment Day," and was, with its contents, entirely destroyed with a large 
three-story stone building on Dyer Street, and some smaller buildings and 
a large lot of lumber in the yard of Albert Dailey & Company. This was 
quite a serious fire and kept most of the firemen on duty until five o'clock 
the next morning. 

Aug. 5, 1851, early in the night, Cleveland's turning works, situated on 
Mill Street, were burned, with several other buildings, eleven of which 
were on fire at one time. The light of this fire was so great that the 
firemen of Pawtucket thought a great fire was raging here and two com- 
panies of them with their engines came voluntarily to the assistance of 
the Providence fire department. 

The Richmond Street Free Congregational Church caught fire from a 
burning barn, located in the rear and very near it, and was entirely con- 
sumed, together with several adjoining buildings, in the early morning of 
Oct. 13, 1851. 

The *' Arnold block," a new business building, located at the foot of 
Waterman Street, on North Main, and but recently completed, was 
entirely destroyed by fire, in the day-time, Oct. 10, 1853. m 

Howard block, then the largest and finest business block in the city, 
located as now, on Westminster and Dorrance streets and Exchange 
Place, caught fire at midnight, Oct. 26, 1853, and with the large new 
Museum building on the next lot east, and several other buildings, all 
the property of Mr. George H. Howard, were consumed, at an estimated 
loss of $300,000. So great and bright was the illumination of the sky 
over the city that our Pawtucket neighbors were greatly alarmed 'and 
between three and four o'clock in the morning, two of their fire com- 
panies, fully manned, rushed to the city in time to render valuable aid 
to the city firemen, who warmly welcomed them with all their character- 
istic cordiality. The noise of this noted fire was very remarkable, the 
falling in of the large roofs and floors caused a roaring and crashing so 
unusually loud as to be heard all over the city and was quite astonishing 
to all hearers. The records of Union. Company, No. 3, say of this fire: 
" Our engine was stationed three times and worked in all eighteen hours." 

The Roger Williams Free Baptist Church original church edifice, 
standing on Burgess Street, was entirely burned by a fire that caught in 
it, Jan. 5, 1855. This church edifice was one of the prominent land- 
marks of the '* Christian Hill " district, its spire having a conspicuous 
town clock and its bell tower a fine bell that was famous as a fire alarm 
bell in those very clamorous days and nights when nearly all the church 
bells rang out all the fire alarms, and everybody ran through the strer ts 
shouting "fire! f-i-r-e!" — sights and sounds existing now only in the 
stirring memories of the old firemen and other veterans. 

The extensive steam planing works of William B. Dean, located on the 
north side of Dorrance Street, between Pine and Friendship, quite a large 
brick building, took fire on Monday, Jan. 11, 1857, and the interior and 
contents were all destroyed, leaving only the bare walls standing. The 
loss was estimated at $30,000, without insurance. 

Grace Church building, corner Westminster and Mathewson streets, 
caught fire from a defective furnace, Saturday, March 14, 1857, when its 
interior was damaged by fire and water to the amount of $7,000. It was 
fully insured. 

A very large pile of pine wood, for locomotives, belonging to the Boston 
& Providence Railroad Company and stored in their yard at India Point, 
took fire Wednesday evening, May 13, 1857, and about one thousand cords 
of the wood were burned before the fire was subdued, the fire being diffi- 
cult and long continued. The fire records show that No. 4 Engine 
Company worked twenty-seven hours, and Gaspee No. 9, ten hours con- 
tinuously at this fire. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



'2? 



One of the most extensive and notable fires of the city was that which 
entirely destroyed the large rubber works of Nathaniel Hay ward, located 
on the corner of Eddy and Clifford streets, on Thursday, Oct. 9, 1857, at 
which one life was lost. At seven o'clock in the morning, just as the 
engine was starting the works, the steam boiler exploded and that started 
the fire which consumed the whole concern. The exploded boiler, weigh- 
ing over four tons, was thrown across the street with such force as to 
break short off an elm tree trunk, nine inches through, and obliterate the 
entire side of a dwelling-house opposite. Mr. Ira Smith, a machinist, on 
his way to work in another establishment, was passing the place just as 
the explosion occurred, which prostrated the brick wall of the building 
upon him and crushed him to death; he was the only one killed, though 
several of the employes were severely injured. The fire consumed the 
five separate buildings, comprising the entire works, and occupying an 
area of 20,000 feet of land, with all their machinery and other valuable 
contents. 

A fire was discovered in the basement of the Howard block about eight 
o'clock Monday evening, Nov. 15, 1858, and through the open hoisting-way 
it quickly rushed up to the fifth story, and soon the north portion of the 
block was all in flames. The ladder men having no ladders long enough to 
reach the fire with water, the firemen were unable to save the block and it 
was soon burned to the ground. The Museum building next to it was 
also entirely destroyed, and its walls in falling, crushed a small building 
belonging to Walter R. Danforth and occupied by Charles Snow, shoe 
dealer, and Henry Whiteman & Company's clothing store. The buildings 
opposite, on Westminster Street, were at times in great danger, but were 
finally saved by the firemen, although the goods in the stores were badly 
damaged by water and removal. These two buildings, with others, were 
burned before, in 1853. Howard block then contained the finest hall in 
the city. The theatre building, but recently repaired and repainted was 
not occupied. The property belonged to George A. Howard, whose loss 
was estimated at $150,000, with an insurance of $65,000 on the Howard 
block and $29,000 on the Museum. The firemen were on duty from eight 
o'clock that night until five the next morning, and after three hours' relief, 
continued active duty until night. The origin of the fire was unknown, 
but supposed to be incendiary. 

The Providence Dyeing, Bleaching & Calendering Company's build- 
ings, on Sabin Street, occupied by them, the Providence Hair Cloth 
Company, and by Dexter N. Knight as a flouring mill, were burned Dec. 
6, i860, with a large loss to all the tenants, Mr. Knight losing over one 
thousand barrels of flour and one thousand bushels of wheat; the total 
loss amounting to nearly fifty thousand dollars. 

Hope Iron Foundry building, situated on Eddy Street, was partially 
burned Feb. 6, 1864, with loss estimated at nearly thirteen thousand dollars. 

April 1, 1864, Swarts Hall, formerly the Second Baptist Church, corner 

^of Pine and Dorrance streets, was entirely consumed by an incendiary fire, 

'with a loss of $9,000. The church bell, which had long been used for fire 

alarms, was saved in good condition, and afterwards placed on Mr. Swart's 

residence, opposite the old church, where it continued to ring fire alarms 

until the electric system superseded it. 

The Elm Street Machine Shop building, corner of Elm and Butler 
streets, was partially destroyed by fire, April 21, 1865, with a loss on 
building and contents of $10,000. 

The Valley Worsted Mill, on Eagle Street, was destroyed by fire Feb. 
2, 1866, when the firemen were on duty all night and suffered much from 
the bitter cold weather. The mill and contents were consumed with an 
estimated loss of $200,000. 

Alexander Duncan's building, corner of Dyer and Custom House 
streets, occupied by the Providence Press Company and several other ten- 
ants, took fire Dec 31, 1868. It proved a difficult fire to manage and 
burned a long time, inflicting a loss of $21,000. 

Messrs. Tucker & Swan's coal yard, buildings, and pockets on Dor- 
rance Street wharf, caught fire, June 28, 1870, and were seriously damaged, 
the loss being nearly seventy thousand dollars. 

The Boston block, a tenement house on Langley Street, was burned on 
the evening of July 4, 1870. The fire department were then having a 
torchlight parade in honor of the day and were passing up Westminster 
Street when they heard the alarm, broke ranks, and ran to the fire. They 
had arranged for a collation at the fifth ward room at the close of the 
parade, and also the presentation of a silver trumpet to Chief Engineer 
Greene. After working at the fire all night the firmen repaired to the 
ward room and carried out all their holiday arrangements which this 
untimely fire had so vexatiously interrupted, with all the spirit and enthu- 
siasm of the old style of firemen. 

Allen's Print Works, on Printery Street, were damaged by fire, Feb. 3, 
1874, to the amount of $75,000. 

Albert Dailey & Company's planing mill and lumber yard on Dyer • 
Street, was injured by fire on June 25, 1875, to the amount of $25,000. 
This mill was the successor of Tallman & Bucklin's, burned on the same 
site several years previous. 

The buildings of the Rhode Island Bleachery, on Eddy Street, were con- 
sumed by fire, Sept. 15, 1876, with a reported loss of $35,000. Three fine 
dwelling-houses, situated on Parade Street, were burned Dec. 1, 1876, with 
a loss of$ 16,500. 

On the evening of Sept. 27, 1877, a fi re broke out in the paper box 
manufactory of Charles W. Jenckes & Brother, in the Aldrich building 
on Pine Street and Harkness Court, which was very quickly destroyed, 
the fire immediately igniting and completely destroying the fine Daniels 
and Vaughan blocks on Custom House Street, and seriously damaging the 
Eddy building on Custom House Street, and the Durfee, Almy, and Even- 
ing Press buildings on Dyer Street. The fire department of Pawtucket, 
and the steamer from Cranston Print Works responded to the call for as- 
sistance, and zealously gave the city invaluable aid in its hour of need. 
Assistance was asked from Boston, but before the train with the apparatus 
was ready, the fire was under control and the order countermanded; the 
loss was about $300,000. This was one of the most serious, extensive, 
and dangerous conflagrations in the history of the city. 

17 



The Fletcher building on the corner of Westminster and Eddy streets, 
was badly damaged by fire, June 4, 1878, with a loss of $16,000, only the 
efficient management and working of the fire department saving the build- 
ing and preventing the much greater loss which was seriously threatened. 

Mackee, Edwards & Company's large dry goods store on Westminster 
Street, caught fire on Dec. 26, 1879, ftnd wa8 damaged thereby to the extent 
of nearly twenty thousand dollars. 

The large mill of the Wanskuck Woolen Company took fire on the 
night of April 1, 1880, and was damaged to the amount of $ 25,00a This 
mill is located in the tenth ward near the northern line of the city, and 
considering the long distance the firemen had to run to reach the fire, 
great credit was given them for their promptness and success in so quickly 
subduing it. 

The Dyer Street Land Company's large brick manufacturing block, which 
occupied the whole square bounded by Dyer, Peck, Friendship, and Orange 
streets, took fire Dec. 23, 1880, and before it was extinguished the loss 
amounted to $24,000. 

The large cotton mill of the Oriental Manufacturing Company, siuated 
on Admiral Street near Charles, was damaged to the extent of $25,000 on 
the 25th of April, 1881. 

Rowley's extensive sale and livery stable, at the corner of Dean and 
Fountain streets, was destroyed by fire, with a large number of valuable 
horses and carriages, and a total loss of $23,000, Aug. 13, 1882. 

One of the most notable and disastrous fires ever known in this city with 
the largest loss of life and infliction of serious injuries, suddenly broke 
out about ten o'clock Tuesday forenoon, Nov. 1, 1882, in the " Callender 
building," as it was called, located at No. 25 Callender Street and belong- 
ing to the Slater Mill and Power Company of this city, a building four 
stories high, 48x80 feet, entirely occupied for various manufactures by 
several tenants and operated by steam power. The fire started in the dye- 
house of Charles T. Melvin, on the third floor, from the ignition of the 
vapor of naptha used in his business. Alarm was instantly given and all 
on the third and lower floors escaped without trouble, but the rapid flames 
almost instantly enveloped the only stairway leading to the fourth floor, 
and thus imprisoned and threatened with the most fearful of deaths all on 
the upper floor, employers and employes, in all more than fifty men and 
women, this floor being occupied by manufacturing jewelers, William H. 
Grant & Company and William H. Robinson & Company, together 
employing over fifty hands, mostly young girls. 

All were soon driven by the furious flames to the north end of the build- 
ing, and there then being no fire escape for them, they immediately 
began to jump from these upper windows to the roof of a shed directly below, 
and to the ground, two of the girls, Bessie Cobb and Emma Gassett, 
being killed by the fearful fall, and many others, men and women, were 
seriously and some fatally injured by plunging from the windows in their 
terrible fear of the fire, before it was subdued. By this time a large crowd 
had collected, to suffer as helpless witnesses of this awful immolation of 
innocent victims, and it was then a scene of excitement and distress 
unparalleled in the history of our city, the firemen, policemen, and 
many others sparing no effort, but doing all that men could possibly do to 
reach and save these terror-stricken mortals from their great peril. A 
heroic deed that excited spontaneous shouts of admiration was when 
. Christian Timmans, a stalwart teamster, rushed up the long ladder to the 
fourth-story windows, and brought down in his firm grasp two of the 
endangered girls, his brave act winning their gratitude with that of the 
vast throng that witnessed its humane performance. A coroner's inquest 
censured the owners of the building for lack of facilities to escape from 
fire, and the excitement following this disaster resulted in the passage 
of a law by the General Assembly compelling the erection of efficient 
exterior fire escapes on all buildings of certain classes where men or 
women are employed in numbers. The firemen fortunately extinguished 
the fire in time to save many of the imperilled lives, and without serious 
injury to the valuable property, the estimated loss being only $5,000. 

The mill of Mr. Charles Fletcher, situated on Valley Street, and filled 
with the valuable machinery used in the manufacture of fine worsted and 
woolen goods, was nearly destroyed by fire Feb. 17, 1883, incurring a loss 
of $32,000. 

The dry goods store known as the " New York Store," in Butler Ex- 
change, Westminster Street, was totally burned out on the night of Dec. 
8, 1883, with a loss of $31,000. 

The new Vaughan block on Custom House Street, built to replace the 
one burned a few years before, was again nearly destroyed by Are Jan. 
18, 1884. 

Fire was discovered burning in a bale of cotton on the wharf of the 
Norfolk & Baltimore Steamship Company, on the afternoon of April 23, 
1884, which rapidly spread to the large number of other bales lying on 
the wharf, from the high wind prevailing, threatening the destruction of 
the whole lot, but the prompt arrival and efficient service of the fire de- 
partment saved the greater part of it, the estimated loss being only $10,000. 

Oliver Johnson & Company's wholesale drug store, on Exchange Street, 
containing a large stock of paints, drugs, and dye-stuffs, was damaged by 
fire to the extent of $13,000, on the morning of May 26, 1884. 

There were no very important or extensive fires in the city during the 
year 1885. The most notable that did occur were the wholesale grocery 
store of Sanders, Whitford & Bartlett, No. 99 Dyer Street, March 5th, 
when their stock was mostly consumed, with a loss of $12,000; and the 
" Round House " of the Providence & Springfield Railroad Company, 
located on the Cove lands, which was burned August 20th, with a loss 
estimated at $11,000. 

For the current year, from the first of January to the last of September, 
1886, there were no very large or destructive fires, the most notable being 
the large double dwelling-house Nos. 64 and 66 Bridgham Street, January 
11, occupied by two tenants who were burned out, losing $4,000 in their 
household goods, and $2,400 on the building; insured for $8,000. The 
fire in Althan's bakery, occupying from No. 155 to 157 Brook Street, on 
the early morning of June 28, when buildings and stock were damaged to 
the amount of $5,000, with insurance for $1,500, and the fire in Orville A. 



Digitized by 



Google 



126 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



Hodges' coal and wood yard, June 30, which was put out with a loss of 
$3,000, and was insured for $3,100. 

This fire threatened to be a serious and extensive conflagration, more 
than twenty separate buildings being set on fire by the burning embers 
and sparks scattered over a large area from it by the wind. The roof of 
the old Normal School building on High Street caught fire, and a second 
alarm was rung, but the quick and efficient work of the firemen soon sup- 
pressed the fire. There were 103 alarms in all rung during this time, but 
most of the fires were slight, with small loss. 

Providence Veteran Firemen Association. — This asso- 
ciation of the veteran firemen of the city originated six years ago 
from the lively interest then awakened in the subject by the earn- 
est zeal of such prominent and influential veterans as the Hon. 
Zachariah Allen, Gen. W. H. P. Steere, Charles E. Carpenter, 
Dexter Gorton, Ira Winsor, Stillman White, John W. Briggs, 
John W. Tillinghast, Richard W. Comstock, George W. Cady, 
James M. Baker, Martin S. Budlong, Samuel R. Cornell, George 
H. Jencks, John H. Kenyon, John P. Walker, and other active 
associate veterans. These pioneers in the work announced their 
object to be the formation of a society of veterans for the purpose 
of collecting for permanent preservation all records, papers, docu- 
ments, legends, memorials, and relics relating or pertaining to 
the volunteer or paid fire department of the city, and to hold meet- 
ings to foster good will and encourage professional fraternity for 
mutual benefit and pleasure, with the society name of the " Prov- 
idence Veteran Firemen Association." The constitution and 
by-laws governing the society were adopted Jan. 11, 188 1. By 
them all past firemen, of good character, who have honorably 
served one year prior to 1870, and all present firemen who have 
served one year since 1870, but ten years at the least, previous to 
proposal as members of the society, upon the approval of the 
standing committee, are eligible to membership of the association. 
They also provide all other requisite rules and regulations for its 
proper support and government. The first annual meeting was 
held Jan. 25, 1881, when the following-named veterans were 
elected its first board of officers : 

President, Zachariah Allen ; first vice-president, George W. 
Cady ; second vice-president, George H. Jencks ; third vice-pres- 
ident, Martin S. Budlong ; fourth vice-president, Edward Cory ; 
secretary, Charles E. Carpenter; treasurer, John P. Walker. 

President Allen died suddenly, Friday evening, March 17, 1882, 
but two months after his election, aged eighty-five years, u full 
of years and full of honors," and as a mark of respect for his 
venerated memory, his office was left vacant for the remainder of 
his term by an unianmous vote of the society. At the next annual 
meeting in January, 1883, Charles E. Carpenter was elected 
president and Albert E. Winsor, secretary, the other officers con- 
tinuing unchanged. Mr. Carpenter was president two years, till 
1885, when George W. Cady was elected president, and served 
one year, until January, 1886, when George H. Jencks, the 
present president, was elected. 

After occupying various temporary locations, late in the year 
1885 the association secured permanent head-quarters and home 
in the Bank building, 98 Weybosset Street, which was dedicated 
on Monday evening, January 25th, by holding there the annual 
election and appropriate dedicatory exercises with addresses by 
Mayor Doyle, several aldermen and councilmen, veterans from 
Boston, and other guests, to a large and delighted company of 
veterans and their invited guests. Their new quarters comprise 
the large hall and ante- room, formerly occupied by the Mechanic's 
Association, very eligibly located, pleasant and spacious, on the 
rear upper floor of the Bank building. Their hall already contains 
many interesting relics and historical memorials of heroic deeds, 
and its walls are picturesquely adorned with antique hats, fronts, 
badges, belts, buckets, and various other emblems and symbols, 
eloquent reminders of the by-gone days of the volunteer fireman, 



including some valuable fraternal tokens from Boston veterans. 
The regular meetings are held the last Tuesday evening of each 
month, the December meeting being that for the annual election 
of officers ; the annual tax is one dollar. The annual excursion 
that the association makes every summer is a prominent feature 
in the yearly life of the association, all it has yet made having been 
very pleasant and successful anniversary festivals. The association 
is now an established, flourishing, and valuable institution, with 
an excellent reputation and standing with all its contemporary 
societies, and with all their fellow-citizens as well. 

The following- named members were elected as officers of the 
association at the annual meeting in December last, for the year 
1886: 

President, George H. Jencks; first vice-president, Martin S. Budlong; second vice- 
president, Edward Cory; third vice-president, James M. Baker; fourth vice-president, 
Stillman White; secretary, Albert C. Winsor; treasurer, Joseph Kelly. 

The officers compose the standing committee. The roll of members is as follows : 



Allen, Zachariah * 
Allen, James S. 
Allen, Lewis L. 
Atkinson, Thomas 
Allen, Lewis C. 
Almy, William C. 
Anthony, David S. 
Arnold, William A. 
Angell, Jonathan S. 
Arnold, Thomas F< 
Allen, Fenncr R. 
Arnold, Timothy T. 



Chickering, Chas. E. 
Comstock, W. G. 



Kelly, Ira D. 
Knowles, J. A.* 



Chace, Lewis Jenkins Kelly, Joseph 
Carpenter,Sturges P.* Kent. William A. 
Dyer, Elisha Knight, Nehemiah 

Duncan, Alexander Kil vert, Samuel W* 
Downing, George M. Little, John S. 
Dillaby, William F. Lamb, Edwin G. 



Davis, Lewis E. 
Dodge, Tared C. 
Dodge, Horace 
Dean, Henry W. 



Read, Samuel G. 
Richards, Charles L. 
Reynolds, William H. 
Rounds. Albion 
Ross, Thomas B. 
Rounds, George 
Richardson, Horace S. 
Reynolds, George T. 
Robinson, Frank V. 
Reed, Alpheus 
Slade, Obadiah.* 



Ardoene, George M> Duff, Nicholas B 
Austin, Leonard N. Davis, Sturges 
Arnold, Stephen C. ~ ~ 

Aldnch, William H. 
Arnold, William H. 
Arnold, Henry A. 
Arnold, William J. 



Douglas, Daniel P. 
Drown, John 
Drown,. Alfred M. 
Earle, John D. 
Eddy, Pembroke S. 



Little, Thomas 
Lewis, Kingsley T. 
Lawton, George F. 

Lassell Augustus G. Spencer, John E. 
Legg, George O. Swan, Thomas, Jr. 

Luther, Charles B. Shepard, Stephen S, 
Little, Christopher B. Scott, Walter 
Lewis, Wellington Spauldlng. Judson 



Angell, Edmund W. Eager, Lyman W. 



Aldrich, Frederick J. 
Angell, Edward T. 
Aneell, Albert G.* 
Bualong, Martin S. 
Briggs, John W. 
Burdon, Levi L. 



Lilley, Asa K. 
Lapham, E. £.• 
Mason, Stephen G. 
Man ton, George A, 



Everett, Richmond P. Millett, Thomas A. 



Esten, Samuel J. 
Fisher. William C. 
Farrell, Thomas R. 
Fuller, Albert F. 
Fowler, Lewis P. 



Makee, I. Frank 
Macreadmg, Wm. E. 



Sherman, William N. 
Swarts, Benjamin P. 
Sherman, William R. 
Salisbury, Thomas R. 
Spooner, William A. 
Sprague, Thomas 
Steere, George A. 



Matthews, Joseph G. Stone, Isaac 
Martin, Archibald Swan, William H. H. 



Blanding, William B. Farmer, Edward G. 
Burdick, Daniel Fenner, Hardin H. 

Baker, James M. Gorton, Dexter 



Morrow, Robert 
Munroe, Thomas J. 
Munroe, William H. 
Millett, Oscar F. 



Briggs, Christophers. Glasgow, Wm. H., Jr. McCoid James 

Barker, William H . Goldine James Myers, Jjacob L, 
Buffum, James B. Gray, Abraham A. 

Balchelder, Wm. W. Goff. Cyrilius E .• *»«.».«.«» , A „ 

Bennett, Lysander Goldsmith, Samuel J. Mason, John L. 

Brightman, Samuel A. Greene. Charles H. Martin, William J. 

Bucklin, William N. Griswold, Horace P. Mowry, Orrin S, 



Sprague, William 
Smith, William E. 
Snow, Charles 
Sabin, Jesse 
Swan, Charles H. 
Salisbury, Stephen P. 

Mason, "James P. Shepard, William H. 

Manchester,Albert H Sheldon, Francis J. 
- * - Sweet, Orin 



Bradbury, Joseph 
Bray man, George W. 
Burns, Joseph M. 
Baker, Elijah E. 
Bates, Reuben H. N. 
Buckley, John 
Bucklin, John C. 
Bennett, John A. 
Burton, David 
Blackmar, Jason A. 
Black, James B. 
Bennett, William A. 



Gorham, William H. Mcintosh. J. George 
~ ~~ Munroe, George H. 



Gurney, Charles H, 
Grant. James R. 



Miller, William H. 
Morse, Henry F, 
Mason, Hervey 



Messinger, Lewis G. Tinker, Alfred 



Grant, Daniel 

Grant, Allen F. 

Gale, John W. 

Gardner, Charles 

Garside. Frederick 

Goff, Nathan B. 

Goff, James 

Hayward, William S Ormsbee, John S. 

Henry, Thomas R. Osgood, Everett R. 

Bliven, Alexander M. Harrington, Wm. W. O'Ncil, John 
Bennett, William E. Hall, Edward W. Oakes, John R. 
Bucklin, James T. P. Havens, Edward 
Burr, Calvin C. Hathaway, Elias B. 

Bam ford, George S. Ham. Edward I. 

Howland, John 

Hutchins, bhubael 

Hall, Alfred K. 



Smith, Andrew W. 
Sprague, William H. 
Sawfc, William A. 
Tillinghast, John W. 
Thurston, George S. 
Taylor, Henry 
Tillinghast- Chas. H. 



Bull, Thomas R. 

Blanchard, Truman 

Butts, Hiram D. 

Bradford, Edwin S. 

Brown, Thomas 

Brown, Samuel F. 

Brown, John H. 

Bennett, C. W. B • .^„. w *w. j^*** 

Carpenter, Charles E. Hammond, John H. 

Cory, Edward Horton, George B. 



Nye, Calvin L. 
Nichol, Thomas 
Najac, Munson H. 
Newhall, Edwin T. 



Olney, Henry S. 
Ormsbee, George F. 
Olds, Franklin* 



Peck, Charles W. 
Ham, Benjamin W.* Potter, Henry K. 
Humphrey, Amasa Patterson, William 
Holden, Warren Perry, Ludan N. 

Harrington, Chas. N. Peck, William H 
Heathcote, John ** ~ ' * *"" ™* 



Tripp, Abel W. 

Truman, Henry H. 

Tucker, Charles A. # 

Totten, Nathaniel G. 

Thurston, Samuel W. 

Thomas, Samuel W. 

Tripp, Joshua W. 

Tinker. Edward W. 

Trask, James K. 

Tillinghast, Harvey* 

Underwood, Otis P. 
Prentice, George W. Underwood, Nicholas 
Pearce. Frederick P. Underwood, O. D. M.* 



Pool, AbnerT. 

Prentiss, Edmund F. 

Perkins, William A. 
Cornell, Samuel R. Hudson, James S. Phillips, Thomas 
Chester, Frank D. Hicks, Merill E. Pinkham, Darius 

Carlisle, William A. Hutchins, George Pierce, Henry E. 
Capron, John H. Henley, Charles A. Palmer, John S. 
Curtis, Joseph B. Hallett, Isaac N.* Patterson, James 
Cory, William H. Hunt, George Pope, Charles F. 

Campbell, Walter A. Hunt, Thomas Potter, Arnold L. 

~ ' — ' -~ " ' ' ~ Pullen, Wm. H., Jr. 

Potter. Charles H. 

Peckham, Lewis 

Paddock, George H. 

Potter, Alfred 5. 

Patt, Frank H. 

Peck, James C. 
Harwood, Charles S. Petty, Amos 
Handy, Thomas F. Pearce, John B . 
In graham, Charles G. Rounds, Thomas M. 



Cloudman, Charles G. Holmes, Willard R. 
Cheney, Charles T. Harrington, Caleb B. 
Church, John Hall, Henry T. 

Chace, John H. Hawkins, Amos M. 

Clark, George Lewis Hemingway. S. A. A 
Chace, Willard * Haskins, Robert G. 

Campbell, George F.* Hill, Holden O. 
Collyer, Samuel S.* " ' ~ l 

Cady, George W. 
Child, JohinE. 
Cornell, Benjamin J 



Carlln, John E, 
Claflin, Henry A. 
Clarke, William J. 
Cooke, James 

Chadwick, Horace E. , 

Cleveland, George E. Kinyon, John H. 
Cutler, Louis A. Kelly, Philip W. 

Cottrell, John H 



lde, Welcome E. 

encks, George H. 
. ohnson, William S. 

ohnson. Joseph F. 

ohnson, William H. 

ohnson, Benson W. 



White, Stillman 
Winsor, Ira 
Walling, Leander M. 
Wilbur, Orrin K. 
Williams, W. I. 
Worsley, Benjamin F. 
West, Joseph 
Webster, Josiah L. 
West. Nathaniel 
Woodbury, Sewall C. 
Wilkinson, James A. 
Wild, Samuel S. 
Winsor, Paris 
Wells, Joseph A. 
Walker, John P. 
Winsor, Albert C. 
White, Benjamin T. 
Waterhouse, Eben W. 
Warner, Edward 
Worsley, Charles H. 
Warren, James 
Winship, Augustus J. 
Wright, John 
Wilkinson, Fayette 
West, Caleb B. 
Wilbur, Pardon 
Wiggin, Charles 
White, Charles E. 



Knowlton, George H. Read, Hiram S 
* Deceased Members. 



Rounds, James P. 
Reynolds, T. W. D. 
Rodman, Henry W. 

Rutherford, Theodore Waterman, Benjamin 
Read.Josephus Westland, Charles S.* 

Rathbun, Walter N. Wing, Augustus W. 
Richardson, Varnum Young, George A. 
Reeves, George A. Yarwood, Henry 



Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter IV. 



EARLY AND MODERN TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES. 

THE INDIAN PATHS — INDIAN CANOES — EARLY SLOOPS — ROGER WILLIAMS* PINNACE — THE FIRST FERRY — FIRST STAGE LINES — 
EARLY COAST LINES — TOLL BRIDGES AND TURNPIKES — THE FIRST STEAMBOAT — EARLY STEAMBOATING — HEIGHT OF 
THE STAGE COACH PERIOD — THE BLACKSTONE CANAL — THE BEGINNING AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE RAILROAD ERA — 
THE EXPRESS BUSINESS — BUILDING OF THE CENTRAL OR UNION DEPOT — FURNITURE WAGONS AND LOW GEARS — THE 
OMNIBUS PERIOD — THE HORSE CAR SYSTEM — UNION RAILROAD COMPANY — THE PROVIDENCE POST-OEFICE — SKETCHES OF 
THE GREAT TRANSPORTATION COMPANIES CONNECTING WITH PROVIDENCE — THE PROVIDENCE AND BOSTON RAILROAD — . 
THE NEW YORK, PROVIDENCE AND BOSTON RAILROAD — THE PROVIDENCE AND WORCESTER RAILROAD — THE PROVIDENCE 
AND SPRINGFIELD RAILROAD — THE NEW YORK AND NEW ENGLAND RAILROAD — THE PROVIDENCE, WARREN AND BRISTOL 
RAILROAD — THE PROVIDENCE, NORFOLK, WEST POINT AND BALTIMORE LINE OF STEAMERS — THE WINSOR LINE — THE 
PROVIDENCE LINE THE FALL RIVER LINE THE CONTINENTAL STEAMBOAT COMPANY. 




A MODERN TRANSPORT. 

It is altogether a mistake to suppose that the wilderness found 
here by Roger Williams two hundred and fifty years ago, was a 
"pathless" one. The state of civilization developed among the 
Narragansetts was sufficiently far advanced to develop roads, in 
the words of Roger Williams, " as hard and firm as any roads in 
England." Through these roads the Indians traversed the coun- 
try at all seasons of the year passing from town to town with their 
merchandise. The "Pequot path" was the main one, not only 
of the Narragansetts, but of travelers of other tribes going from 
the west to the east, or vice versa. It entered the Narragansett 
territory about where Westerly now stands, passed to the north 
of Charlestown Pond near the so-called "Fort Ninigret" over 
Kingston Hill, through East Greenwich, and following Greenwich, 
Broad and Weybosset streets, crossed the head of the bay by a 
ford from Washington Row to the foot of Steeple Street. 

The town street of Providence was not first used as a thor- 
oughfare by the white man ; for generations before their com- 
ing the Indians had used it as such ; the Pequot path was there 
met by other paths — one led up a gorge to the eastward, the 
site of the present Meeting Street, and thence to a ferry at the 



present "Red Bridge," whence the Indians passed over into the 
country of the Wampanoags towards Taunton and Plymouth. 
Another path led southward to Power Street, where it ascended 
another gorge under "Bewitt's Brow," and passing round under 
Tockwotton Hill, by another ferry crossed to Watchemoket, and 
thence to Sowams (Warren) and Montaup (Mount Hope) . An- 
other pathxwent northward up a third gorge, Constitution Hill to 
Stampers Street, thence outward to Pawtucket Falls, and thence 
into the Wampanoag country, probably towards Shawomet (Bos- 
ton) . Still a fourth path is known to have passed up Mill Street, 
crossing the Moshassuck by a ford, and following the present 
Charles Street into the Louisquisit country. Other paths fol- 
lowed up the Woonasquatucket Valley, and ran from town to 
town between the main paths. Thus it is evident that accord- 
ing to the development of the Indian civilization, Providence, 
even before its settlement by the whites, was a centre of quite a 
system of transportation facilities established by the aborigines. 

These "paths," it must be understood, were not the roads of 
the present day, but were equal to the emergencies for which they 
were intended, viz., the passage of foot carriers and their burdens. 
Their width varied, probably, from six to ten, or at the outside, 
twelve feet. 

The bay was always present, and the means of water transpor- 
tation which it furnished had been from time immemorial, taken 
advantage of by the Indians, and were readily seen and seized by 
the whites. The first means of transportation over its waters 
were the canoes of the Indians, but we find in early days that 
Roger Williams had a pinnace, (probably a square-bowed, square- 
stern ed craft, partially decked over at each end with a mast or 
masts, and sail or sails in the centre, intended to be propelled by 
the latter ordinarily, but which in case of emergency could be pro- 
pelled by oars,) which he used on the bay and its head waters as 
far as Taunton. The facts of the Taunton Iron Works having been 
early opened, its transacting business with both Boston and 
Plymouth parties, and that Roger Williams apparently sent his 
"pinnace" habitually to Taunton, indicate that one of the earliest 
routes of commercial communication from both Boston and Ply- 
mouth to Providence, was via Taunton by road, thence by water 
to Providence. 

At the time of King Philip's War, 1676, a communication 
with other colonies and the West India Islands had been estab- 
lished from Newport, and Providence Williams, at least, pos- 



Digitized by 



Google 



128 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



sessed a sloop with which he made trips occasionally to Provi- 
dence from that point, but probably the main means of communi- 
cation was by canoes and boats, for we find that in 1672, when 
Roger Williams was in a hurry to go to Newport in order to 
take part in a religious discussion, he rowed himself there. 

The first development of local transportation facilities after the 
King Philip War, was the establishment of a ferry at the present 
Red Bridge, and of local roads, more properly paths, to the various 
settlements. At a later day bridges were constructed on some of 
the main roads, where they crossed the larger rivers. Carts were 
not much used for transportation of goods till after the beginning 
of the eighteenth century. For heavy transportation between the 
different parts of the colony, boats and vessels were used as much 
as possible, and this fact explains why all the commercial centres 
were situated on navigable waters. 

The first regular stage line to Boston was established by 
Thomas Sabin, who kept a tavern at the northeast corner of 
Planet and South Main streets. The line was first advertised by 
newspaper in 1767, and the stage made one trip per week from 
the house of Richard Olney, inn-keeper, who kept a tavern on 
North Main Street, opposite Court House Parade. Stage lines 
about this time ran in competition with the packets and sloops 
which plied between Providence and Newport, and Providence 
and New York, the latter starting twice a week, and their speed 
and accommodations were claimed to be unsurpassed. 

As late as just before the Revolutionary War the condition of 
the roads leading out of Providenec was such that a trip from 
Boston to New York via Providence and New London, the most 
frequented road in New England, consumed a week. 

In May, 1776, the road to Pomfret was in such a condition that 
Mr. S. Thuiber was two days in going the distance of thirty-six 
miles with a horse and chaise, and he adds, "such was the gen- 
eral state of our roads at that time." 

During the Revolutionary War the inland roads of the country 
were rather improved than otherwise, as they were much used for 
transportation of supplies, the coasting communication being cut 
off by the British fleets, and as little had been done in their inter- 
ests before, what was done then as a military necessity served to 
better their condition. 

After the Revolutionary War, a great improvement was made 
in the facilities for transportation, both by water and land. Ves- 
sels were built of greater tonnage than were before used, and lines 
of vessels running to the coast ports were established. 

The various ferries in the state were then maintained in a state 
of efficiency before unknown. Lines of stages were established to 
Taunton and New Bedford, Worcester, Plainfield, Springfield, 
etc., and the Boston and New York line, via Providence, was so 
much improved that the time of the trip was reduced to three 
days. Lines of teams for transportation of goods were also estab- 
lished on the same routes. The great obstacle to rapid (as the 
word was then understood) communication and transportation by 
land was the condition of the roads. The citizens along the main 
lines of communication did not feel called upon to put the roads 
in a first-class order for the benefit of strangers who might want to 
use them or for that of foreign stage owners. Nor did the owners 
of stage and transportation lines care to put the roads in like 
order when the residents along the line of the same would get the 
chief benefit of their expenditures. 

This state of affairs led to the introduction of what may be 
termed the turnpike era in this state. By this turnpike system a 
corporation assumed the care of a particular road and charged 
every one, neighbor or stranger, a given fee for the use of it, every 
time he made such use, the fee being varied according to the extent 
of the use made, thus a wagon or team with four cattle was charged 
less than one with more ; a single horse and chaise less than a 
a coach and more horses, etc. 



The idea of such a gauge of rates seems to have been derived 
from the system on toll-bridges which had been erected before 
then. The original idea of the toll-bridge was that while those 
originally building the bridge (the neighborhood) were entitled 
to the use of it free, yet strangers using the same ought to bear 
their fair share of the expenses of maintaining it, thus we find 
that as early as the time of Roger Williams, the. Wapweyset 
bridge, one of the earliest bridges erected in Providence, was free 
to all citizens of the town, while strangers were obliged to pay 
toll for the use of the same. This primitive principle developed 
in the course of a century or more into the erection of bridges by 
corporations, as the Washington and "Red" or Moses Brown's 
bridge and others, where charges were made against every person, 
even foot passengers, using the bridge, and in time was trans- 
ferred to turnpike roads. 

The first turnpike road of which we find any record in the 
statutes was, as might have been expected, on the line from Bos- 
ton to New York, and was the Providence and Norwich turnpike 
which had been commenced in the limits of Rhode Island pre- 
vious to the year 1798. The Providence and Boston turnpike 
was in existence previous to the year 1800, having been built 
under an act of the Massachusetts legislature, and an act to incor- 
porate the same in this state was passed on Oct. 29, 1800. Turn- 
pikes to East Greenwich, Glocester, on the island of Rhode 
Island, to Smithfield, Louisquisit, Pawtucket, Wickford, the 
powder mill turnpike, turnpikes to Coventry, Cranston, Foster, 
Cumberland, Worcester, and other places, were incorporated in 
the course of the next thirty years, and before the introduction of 
railroads the turnpike was considered as the highest development 
of land communication. 

This system has since passed entirely away, but it is well to 
recall it as one of the steps leading to our present system. As an 
instance of the rates charged, we here publish the table of the 
Boston and Providence turnpike — probably a fair specimen of 
the best development of them all — the road being longer than 
most, and the traffic greatest : 

'* A wagon cart, or ox-sled team, not exceeding 4 cattle, I2jc. 

A team of more than four cattle, 15 

A sleigh with more than one horse, . . . . 12$ 

A one horse sleigh, 6\ 

A coach, chariot or phaeton, 40 

A chaise chair or sulky, 2\ 

A horse and horse cart, 6J 

A person and horse, 6J 

Draft horses and neat cattle in droves, per head, . . 2 

Swine in droves — for every fifteen, . . . 10 

For less number than fifteen, — each, .... 1 

Sheep and store shoat, — each, J 

Mail stage, 6} 

44 And foot passengers shall not be liable to any toll, nor shall persons 
passing in said turnpike road for the purpose of attending public worship 
or funerals; nor persons living within four miles from the place of the 
turnpike, passing on said turnpike road for the purpose of attending 
town-meetings or other town business, or going to or from mills, or for 
the purposes of husbandry." 

The general adoption of the turnpike system, both in this and 
adjoining states, led to great improvements in the stage facilities. 
By the year 1805 tne time between Boston and New York was 
reduced to about fifty hours, and team transportation facilities 
were increased in like proportion. 

In all cases where it was practical water transportation was 
preferred for the heavier classes of freight, and it was on the 
water that the first application of steam to locomotive purposes in 
America, at least, was made. 

It is to the credit and at the same time to the discredit of Prov- 
idence that one of the earliest, if not the first, steamboats ever 
constructed was made here and plied on Narragansett Bay and 
Providence Harbor. It 1792, years before Fulton's attention was 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



129 




directed to this subject, 
Elijah Ormsbee con- 
structed his steamboat, 
the "Experiment," and 
showed that a steamboat 
was a practicable, attain- 
able thing, and not 
merely the dream of an 
enthusiast, as it was up 
to that time claimed to 
be by practical men. 

This event is a monu- 
ment to the ingenuity of 
the Providence me- 
chanic of that day, but 
the fact that the inven- 
tion was not utilized 
does not speak so highly 
of the foresight and abil- 
ity of the capitalists of 
the town. 

The development of 
steamboats waited — 
Ormsbee was ahead of 
his times — till the days 
of Fulton's " Clermont " 

on the Hudson, and its successors, and it]"was Wednesday, the 
twenty-eighth day of May, 181 7, before a commercially practical 
steamboat ever entered our harbor. 

This was the " Firefly," of New York construction, and the first 
steamboat that ever rounded Point Judith. She " attracted con- 
siderable notice," and on the next Friday made the round trip 
from here to Newport and return in eleven hours. She ran for a 
time between here and Newport, but the enterprise was not pe- 
cuniarily successful and was abandoned. Before this time steam- 
boats had been made use of to shorten the trips to New York, the 
stages running to New London, where the passengers embarked 
on a steamer which ran to New Haven, stopped there overnight, 
" wooded up," and reached New York the next day. 

It was Aug. 22, 182 1, before a steamboat ever arrived at our 
wharfs direct from New York. This was the " Robert Fulton," 
on an excursion trip. 

In June, 1822, a steamboat line between Providence and New 
York was established. The boats made the trip in twenty^three 
hours, consuming fourteen cords of wood in the passage. 

The first point to be obtained after the demonstration of the 
possibility of a steamboat, was the reduction of the fearful expense 
of running those early boats. In this matter Providence came to 
the front, and by his " Babcock boiler engine," John Babcock, 
a Providence mechanic, ran the steamer " Babcock" from New- 
port to New York in August, 1826, with a consumption of only 
one and three-quarters cords of wood. , 

These boats were very different from the boats of to-day. The 
" Washington," one of the best boats of the time, lost in May, 
1831, owing to a collision with the " Chancellor Livingston," 
was valued at from sixty to seventy thousand dollars. In August 
of the same year, the newest and most improved boat on the 
Sound, the u Boston," is described as " 150 feet long, and the 
massy copper boilers of her two engines give the most satisfactory 
assurance of her being an entirely safe boat." The " President," 
the new wonder of the deep, had three decks, lower cabin, state- 
rooms, closets for washing, etc. It was 160 feet long, thirty-two 
and one-half feet beam, eleven feet depth of hold, was of 500 tons, 
burden, had thirty-four state-rooms, 150 berths, two separate low 
pressure engines, and massy copper^boilers. 



EXCHANGE PLACE, AND THE UNION DEPOT. 

By this time stage lines were running from Providence to Taun- 
ton, New Bedford, Worcester, and most of the country towns, as 
well as on the main line between Boston and New York. The 
point of starting and arrival for most of them was the Manufac- 
turers' Hotel, where the What Cheer block now stands, (shown 
in view of Market Square in 1844,) and it was no uncommon sight 
to see a dozen or more coaches, each with six horses, drawn up 
in the highway, in front, above, and below this building, and 
when into this cluster of equipages came the arriving stages pell- 
mell at top speed, each striving to'get in first, the scene became 
one of excitement, and sometimes of danger. With regard to 
the time made by these coaches, we find in 1832, the editor of 
the Gazette proclaiming exultantly " we were rattled from Prov- 
idence to Boston last Monday in four hours and fifty minutes 
including all stops on the road. If any one wants to go faster, he 
may send to Kentucky and charter a streak of lightning, or wait 
for a railroad, as he pleases." 

After the New York boats came here there was a special stage 
line started from the boats to go to Boston, and which came to the 
boats with passengers from Boston. The keeping and baiting 
of the horses used on these stage lines formed no inconsiderable 
business in those days for numerous livery stables. Probably a 
greater number of them were cared for at what is now Cope- 
land's stable, than at any other single one. A signal system was 
established between this stable and Field's Point. The boats 
arriving there would signal the number of passengers for Boston, 
the signals were then repeated to the stable, and then there was 
hurrying in hot haste. The steed, the mustering squadron, and 
the clattering coach, went pouring forward with impetuous speed, 
and swiftly forming in the ranks of stages, thundered down to the 
wharf, and were there stationed and ready for passengers by the 
time of the arrival of the boat. 

At this time it was possible to go to Boston and return the 
same day, spending two hours there, while the running time of 
the boats between here and New York was reduced to less than 
seventeen hours. 

The next development of transportation facilities was the Black- 
stone Canal, opened in 1828. This was a very useful institution 
for the town and city of Providence, and towns along its route, as 



Digitized by 



Google 



3° 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



it enabled freight to be carried at greatly cheapened rates. There 
were some twenty or twenty-five freight boats used upon it with 
an aggregate freight capacity of about eight hundred tons. It 
was, however, far from a success to those who invested in it. In 
an experience of some twenty years the total dividends declared 
upon the stock was two dollars and seventy-five cents, paid during 
the first eight of those years ; the par value of the shares was 
$37.50 each, and when it was finally wound up the whole capital 
was lost. 

By the year 1829, the stage coaches and wagon teams over the 
turnpike roads were considered as too slow and costly, and a 
railroad was looked to and talked of. An idea of the extent of 
the business over the turnpike roads of that day can best be ob- 
tained by the statistics then compiled. It was computed that 
twenty-seven thousand tons of freight were carried annually 
between Boston and towns adjacent to the road at one end, and 
Providence and like adjacent towns at the other, whilst of this 
amount, only 3,400 tons were carried by water, the remainder all 
going over the turnpike. 

The number of passengers carried by two lines only of stages 
between these points was 24,100. 

It was considered that this business could be more expeditiously 
and cheaply carried on by means of a railroad. It was figured 
that one horse on a railroad could carry twenty-seven passengers 
eleven miles per hour for seven hours in a day, and could haul 
eight tons of freight for ten hours per day at the rate of three miles 
per hour ; that it would cost to build and equip the road $400,000. 
On this estimate the Boston and Providence Railroad was first 
planned and chartered. The first charter for this road was after- 
wards revoked so far as Rhode Island was concerned, but a new 
charter was granted in 1831, under which, in connection with a 
charter granted by Massachusetts, the road was built, equipped, 
and operated. It will be noted that up to this time there was no 
thought of a railway having for motive power a steam locomo- 
tive, and that it was expected that every individual could employ 
his own carriage and horse-power on the road, paying toll there- 
for. In fact it was a railroad turnpike. Without this fact being 
born in mind some of the provisions of the charter would seem 
unintelligible, thus, section six provides that the directors of said 
road may erect toll-houses, establish gates, appoint toll gatherers, 
and collect toll upon the road when completed, and upon such 
parts of the road as shall from time to time be completed. Sec- 
tion five provides that " the transportation of persons and property, 
construction of wheels, the form of cars and carriages, the weight 
of loads," etc., are to be according to thej*ules, regulations, and 
provisions established by the directors. 

The first suggestion of a railroad using steam locomotives as a 
source of power, emanating in print from Providence, was on June 
26, 1832. Noting a passage by steamboat from New York to Prov- 
idence in the unprecendented time of fourteen hours and twenty- 
nine minutes, and that eight coaches of the Citizen's line started 
with passengers to Boston, the editor of the Providence Gazette 
ventures to say : " We hope before many years to see a steam 
carriage on a railroad between this city and Boston." 

His hopes were realized — in 1834 locomotive engines drew 
cars from Boston to the viaduct at Canton, connecting there 
with stage coaches ; and in June, 1835, locomotives ran the whole 
length of the road to its then Providence terminus at India Point, 
and the doom of the turnpike and stage coach was sounded in the 
shrill scream of the locomotive whistle. 

But one turnpike company was incorporated in Rhode Island 
after .that date, the Peacedale Turnpike Company in 1842. 

The interests involved, however, were too great for them to 
yield at once. At first the turnpikes and stage lines made com- 
mon cause against the railroad, and attempted to run it out of 



existence by a vigorous competition, but the railroad could make 
the trip to Boston in the beginning in two hours and a half, and 
they gradually reduced the time required till it is now made in 
one hour. No amount of speedy horses or frequent relays could 
drive a stage coach from Boston to Providence in two hours and 
a half. The stage lines then sought business by lowering the 
price, but here also the railroad could meet and discount them, 
and reluctantly the stage lines and turnpike corporations yielded 
to the inevitable and accepted their fate. The same destiny has 
since overtaken other lines and turnpike roads as other railroads 
came into existence, and it is now believed that there is not a turn- 
pike and but very few stage lines in existence in the state. 

Before the opening of the Boston railroad, and before the idea 
of using steam as a railroad locomotive power, in June, 1832, 
another railroad with rights and powers similar to those of the 
Boston and Providence, known as the New York, Providence & 
Boston Railroad, was authorized to construct a track from Provi- 
dence to Westerly. This company in connection with a Connec- 
ticut company, built a line from Stonington to Providence, strik- 
ing the shore just north of Sassafras Cove, and running up the 
west side of the harbor to the present Hill's wharf. This line 
was opened in 1837. Soon afterwards a steam ferry boat con- 
nection was made between the New York, Providence and Boston 
Railroad and the Boston and Providence Railroad in connection 
with steamboats running from Stonington to New York, thus giv- 
ing a second all steam line from Boston to New York. 

About this time the express business was originated, its first 
application on a large scale being on the line between Boston 
and New York. 

The next great movement in the way of increasing transporta- 
tion facilities, was the building of the Providence and Worcester 
Railroad. The Blackstone Canal had proved its inefficiency, and 
in May, 1844, the Providence & Worcester Railroad was incor- 
porated. 

This corporation built the central railroad station now in use 
on land filled in by them from the old Cove and made arrange- 
ments with the Boston & Providence Railroad by which the latter, 
building a branch track from East Junction to near Valley Falls, 
came into the city on their tracks and used the same central 
station. 

This action was followed by the New York, Providence & 
Boston Railroad in constructing a new entrance into the city and 
using the same central station. These arrangements were all 
completed in 1848, and since then the main passenger station in 
the city has been the central one, and around it are grouped most 
of the freight stations of the city. 

About this time came the development of a means of transpor- 
tation of an institution that is said to have originated in Provi- 
dence. We refer to the so-called " furniture wagons," a species 
of light, strong wagons, which with the development of uphol- 
stered seats have become the u excursion wagon" of the present 
day. 

The u low-gear " of Providence, which is seldom seen elsewhere, 
and when seen is merely a copy of a Providence institution, was 
also a production of this period. These conveyances are matters 
which, though calling little attention from the world at large, are 
worthy of notice as practical triumphs of Providence mechani- 
cal ingenuity. 

In 1852, the Providence, Hartford and Fishkill Railroad was 
allowed to enter the city and central depot on land to the north- 
ward of that of the New York, Providence and Boston Railroad. 
This road, though late in its coming, added greatly to the trans- 
portation facilities of Providence. It is now a part of the New 
York and New England Railroad system. 

Still another means of transportation was afforded in 1854 by 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



'3' 



the Providence, Warren and Bristol Railroad to the system cen- 
tering in Providence. It has proved of great benefit to the com- 
mercial and other interests of Providence in bringing her into 
relation with the towns and villages located on the east side of 
the bay, and in southwestern Massachusetts. 

In the early times of railroad development, a railroad was 
planned in Massachusetts, to run from Boston down somewhere 
towards Cape Cod, and called the Old Colony Railroad. A rail- 
road was also planned, chartered, and constructed from New 
Bedford to Taunton, another from Taunton to Mansfield, meeting 
there the Boston and Providence Railroad. 

In course of time the Old Colony Railroad has extended its lines 
over to Taunton, absorbed the New Bedford and Taunton Rail- 
road, the railroad from Taunton to Mansfield, built a shorter 
track from Taunton to Attleboro, and has obtained control of a 
railroad bridge and piece of track connecting the Providence, 
Warren and Bristol Railroad with Fall River, in Massachusetts, 
has built a railroad from Fall River to Newport, and numerous 
other local lines, and thus while entirely a foreign corporation, 
holds a prominent place as a feeder of the commerce of all south- 
eastern Massachusetts to our state. 

The old stage coach lines had mainly passed out of existence. 
There were a few still running into the sparsely settled parts of 
the country, where, as yet, the railroad had not penetrated, and 
there was also a " survival " of the most effective features of the 
business in the shape of " omnibus lines," so-called, to local vil- 
lages in the near vicinity. Pawtucket, Olneyville, Elmwood, and 
Pawtuxet, each had its omnibus line running to it, which, while 
an improvement on, was an evolution from the stage coach busi- 
ness, and as the latter had yielded to the steam railroad, so was 
the omnibus destined to yield to the horse-car railroad. 

The omnibus period, if it may be so called, commenced to close 
in the year 1863, when the first line of horse-cars from Providence, 
— the Providence and Pawtucket — was built, and in the winter 
of 1863-4 was put into successful operation. 

In the course of the next year horse-car lines were projected and 
incorporated to run between Providence Bridge and Cranston, 
Olneyville, Elmwood, Pawtuxet, and to various points in the 
city. Before these lines were built it was found that it would 
be necessary for 
many of these com- 
panies, all center- 
ing at the Great 
Bridge, to run in 
some parts of the 
city over the same 
lines of road, which 
would create con- 
fusion and annoy- 
ance. To obviate 
this difficulty a new 
corporation, the 
Union Railroad 
Company, was or- 
ganized in 1865, 
which united in 
one ownership all 
the minor lines. 
This Union Rail- 
road Company has 
since, in 1872, ab- 
sorbed the Prov- 
idence and Paw- 
tucket line and is 
now the owner of 
the numerous lines 



of street cars running in all'directions from the centre of the city. 

In 1867, the present Union Horse-car depot on the north side 
of the Great Bridge was erected. It was largely destroyed by fire 
in February, 1875, and rebuilt in the following spring. 

As the demands of the business increased, the company laid out 
new routes in different directions till now the whole city is exten- 
sively " gridironed " with street railroad tracks, and there is no 
populous portion of it but what is supplied with ample street rail- 
road facilities. 

The company at present builds its new cars, and does all the 
repairing of its old ones. It also builds and repairs its tracks, 
shoes all its horses, and makes their harnesses, employing a legion 
of operatives in this way. 

The road is under the management of Mr. D. F. Longstreet, 
who was made secretary and treasurer of the company in 1870, 
and in 1872, on the retirement of Superintendent George H. Smith, 
assumed his duties and has had the general superintendence of the 
road since. In 1884, Mr. Longstreet was elected vice-president 
and general manager of the corporation. 

The company now operates fifty-three miles of track, with 146 
box cars and 126 open or summer cars. It has ten stables situated 
at different points in the outskirts of the city in which are kept 
about one thousand three hundred and fifty horses. Its extensive 
repair and building shops are located in South Providence, where 
it employs about fifty hands. It employs 150 conductors, 150 
drivers, eighty-five hostlers. In all departments about six hun- 
dred and fifty people are employed. During the year ending 
Sept. 30, 1885, the company transported 13,360,000 passengers, 
and drove their horses 2,378,000 miles. The total number of 
passengers carried since the company was organized in 1865 to 
the above date is 144,000,000. 

The Union Railroad Company is one of the most successful 
horse-car companies in the country. We use the term successful 
not in reference to the pecuniary dividends derived from it, which 
are a fair but not excessive return for the capital invested, but as 
having a higher meaning in providing for a want of the commu- 
nity and doing it to the satisfaction of the people. 

The company early perceived the growing needs of the city, 
and have with a large comprehension of the necessities of their 




MARKET SQUARE, AND THE UNION RAILROAO DEPOT. 



Digitized by 



Google 



IJ2 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




THE PROVIDENCE POST-OFFICE. 

system, pursued a course that, while not always productive of 
immediate earnings, has enabled them to keep abreast with the 
community in increasing the facilities it could afford them. 
Especially is this course to be noted since the administration of 
Mr. Longstreet began. Whilst the interests of the company have 
been narrowly looked after by him, yet it has been done in such 
a way, and with so much regard for the interests of the people at 
large, that there is very little adverse criticism of the acts of the 
corporation, and that little is growing less and less each year. 

The change to steam navigation has largely swept away the 
numerous lines of packets, sloops, and schooners which used to 
ply between Providence and other coast ports. As we have seen, 
the first attempt to supersede sails by steam between Providence 
and Newport provecfa failure, but in a few years, as the science of 
cheaply producing and using steam became better understood, 
and the importance of saving time, and having a certainty as to 
time of arrival became better appreciated, the steamboat grew 
more in favor, and the packet lines of sloops on that route have 
gradually passed out of existence ; the same is true of the other 
packet lines to other places in the bay, to New York, Philadel- 
phia, Norfolk, and Baltimore, and other places on the coast, while 
the introdution of the system of large barges towed by tugs, has 
converted the business of transporting even coal into one em- 
ploying steam power. 

There is yet, however, a very large amount of commercial 
interchange by means of sailing vessels with points on the United 
States coast, and some with foreign ports. The chief connec- 
tions of Providence with the commercial world by railroad are 
the Boston and Providence Railroad, the New York, Providence 
and Boston Railroad, giving with connections a through all-rail 
route to New York, the New York and New England Railroad, 
the Providence and Worcester Railroad, the Old Colony Railroad, 
connecting with the Boston and Providence Railroad, and also the 
Providence, Warren and Bristol Railroad, the Providence and 
Springfield Railroad, and numerous other short lines of road which 
connect with these roads in various parts of the state, some of 
which prove very important feeders to the commerce of the city. 

The Providence Post-Office. — Intimately connected with 
the business of transportation is that of postal communication. 
Early in the history of the colony, in 1693, the King's post was 



established, but there seems never to have been any " post-office " 
located in the town of Providence until Benjamin Franklin estab- 
lished the inter-colonial post-office system in 1758. 

The first post-office was located on the west side of North 
Main Street, opposite the present St. John's Church; after a 
year or more it was removed further south on the street, but 
again removed to its old quarters. In 1 766 it was carried finally 
to the southward and located at Shakespeare Head, "over against 
the Court House " on King Street, which was the south side of 
the present Meeting Street. With the southward movement of the 
town the post-office was moved to different points on Main Street, 
until it reached Market Square, and was located on the south side 
of that thoroughfare. Under the administration of General Mal- 
lett, in the days of President Jackson, it was removed to the u Mal- 
lett building," on South Main Street. After its removal from the 
Mallett building it was located for a time in the Union building 
on the south side of Westminster Street, and at about 1850 it was 
located in the rear building of the What Cheer block. There it 
remained till it w r as removed in 1857 *° i* 8 present quarters, when 
for the first time it was located in a building belonging to the 
United States government. 

It is what is known as a first-class office, and its statistics indi- 
cate the amount of business carried on in the city. In the office 
there are eighty-five employes, forty being letter carreers em- 
ployed to deliver letters at houses and places of business, and 
bring in the letters that are deposited in the various street letter 
boxes. The number of mails received vary from eighty-six to 
ninety, and the number of mails despatched from ninety-four to 
a hundred daily. The number of pieces handled in a year aggre- 
gates twenty-four millions, and weighs about seven hundred and 
fifty thousand pounds, or three hundred and seventy-five tons. 
Besides the local delivery of the carriers there are 1 ,500 private 
letter boxes in the office, where mail matter is received by those 
hiring the boxes. 

The average number of letter stamps sold in a single month is 
seven hundred and fifty thousand, while of postal cards 150,000 
are sold in a month. Scattered over the city are 1.90 street letter 
boxes, from which are collected at stated hours the mail matter 
deposited in them by the inhabitants. 

The money-order business of the office is very large, the num- 
ber of transactions being above sixty thousand, and amounting 
to more than a million dollars yearly. 

The number of registered letters handled annually is about 
fifty thousand and constantly increasing. 

The ofi$ce employs three horses and wagons to transport mails 
to and from the depots, two more are used at night in making col- 
lections from the street boxes, and three horses and wagons are 
used for the delivery of mails. 

The class of houses that receive and deliver the largest amount 
of mail matter are the various print works, the American Screw 
Company, the great dry goods houses and similar business con- 
cerns. It is not an uncommon occurrence for the office to receive 
100,000 circulars from some of the leading firms in the afternoon 
to be dispatched. Christmas and St. Valentine's seasons also 
cause a large amount of extra work for the employes of the office. 

The largest amount of any one issue of a publication mailed at 
the Providence Post-Office was Reids* Railroad Guide, for 
October, 1886, which weighed two tons. 

The idea of civil service reform has long been in practice in 
this office, and skilled employes are not removed on account of 
political belief. There are employes in the office who have been * 
members of its working force for a long period, the longest term 
of any one of those at present employed being twenty -five years. 

The business of the post-office, at present, is carried on under 
the direction of Henry W. Gardiner, postmaster, and Charles H. 
Williams, assistant postmaster. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



W 



In tracing the history of the great transportation companies 
connected with Providence, not only a comprehensive knowledge 
of the means afforded for the growth and development of these 
plantations is obtained, but they illustrate as well the earliest 
stages of traffic by steamship and rail, and exhibit the high state 
of perfection now attained in the various methods of transporta- 
tion. 

The Boston and Providence Railroad. — As the occupant 
of the luxurious car that whirls him from Providence to Boston 
in a single hour recalls how old Tom Sabine and his brethren of 
the whip used to give a week's notice before setting out for the 
same metropolis, and then take two days to get there, he must be 
keenly sensible that the transition from the stage coach to the 
boudoir railway coach marks an epoch of material progress that 
has stamped a radical impress on New England, solving the 
problem of rapid transportation as printing solved the question of 
the diffusion of knowledge. Nor will the force of this thought 
be lost if he consider what difficulties had to be overcome before 
he could enjoy the advantages of travel that have followed the 
advent of steam as a motive power in land transportation. 

When in the spring of the year 1828, the board of directors 
of internal improvements of the State of Massachusetts applied 
to the General Assembly of Rhode Island for leave to survey a 
route for a railroad to connect Providence and Boston, steam 
railways had not been tried in this country, and the only thing of 
the kind was the few miles of horse railroad connecting the West 
Quincy granite quarries with tide-water. The rural dwellers 
along the line looked upon the proposed railroad as an innovation 
destined to cripple local industry, and ruin their market. But 
the persistent, far-seeing spirit of progress refused to be deterred 
from its purpose by staid conservatism, the survey was made, and 
in June of the same year the General Assembly passed an act 
authorizing the commonwealth of Massachusetts or any corpora- 
tion in that state to lay out and construct the proposed track, 
which inferred, however, that the scheme contemplated was to 
consist of two continuous parallel lines of granite blocks em- 
bedded in the earth, on each of which would be firmly bolted 
thick straps of iron, constituting tracks for the wheels of clumsy 
cars drawn by horses. But the fears of the country folk were 

premature and 
the scheme abor- 
tive. Yet by it 
public attention 
was directed to 
the subject, and 
the way paved 
for a second 
attempt to ac- 
complish the 
same object, and 
some of the 
board of direc- 
tors of the aban- 
doned scheme 
became mem- 
bers of the cor- 
poration that 
subsequently 
built the road. 

In 1 83 1 the 
present Boston 
and Providence 
Railroad Corpo- 
ration was char- 
tered by the 
Massachusetts 





A. A. FOLSOM, 
Suparintendant of tht Boston and Providence Railroad. 



J. B. GARDINER, 
Superintendent of tht New York, Providence and Boston Railroad. 

legislature, and authorized to construct a railroad from Boston, or 
some suburban point, to the boundary line of the state in Paw- 
tucket, (then a part of the Bay State), or Seekonk. The prelim- 
inary survey was made by William Gibbs McNeil and William 
Raymond Lee, and the work of construction was begun by sec- 
tions the following year. 

As the work of building the road approached completion, it 
was seen that in order to derive its full share of benefit therefrom, 
the State of Rhode Island must continue the track to the city of 
Providence, and for that purpose the Boston & Providence Rail- 
road & Transportation Company was organized. To this the 
General Assembly granted permission to build the desired exten- 
sion. 

The work of building this important thoroughfare was finished 
in 1835, and a drawbridge across the river at India Point com- 
pleted the junction at the state line ; and although the stone 
viaduct at Canton, Mass., was not finished until later, the first 
train passed over the line from Providence to Boston on the 
second day of June. It was drawn by horses, however, instead 
of steam, because the locomotives ordered from Philadelphia had 
not arrived. 

In the practical working of the road it was found that the 
management of so short a line by two distinct corporations was 
inconvenient, and although no change was made during the first 
eighteen years of its career, an act of the General Assembly was 
passed in 1853, under which the Boston & Providence Railroad 
& Transportation Company conveyed its interest to the other cor- 
poration, and the entire track passed into the control of the 
Boston & Providence Railroad Corporation. 

The principal officers of the Boston and Providence road have 
been Massachusetts men, although a considerable portion of the 
capital stock is held in this state. It has had seven presidents, 
the succession being as follows : Thomas B. Wales, from 183 1 to 
'835 ; William W. Woolsey, from 1835 to ^38 ; Josiah Quincy, 
Jr., from 1838 to 1841 ; Joseph Grinnell, from 1841 to 1846; 
Charles H. Warren, from 1846 to 1867 ; John H. Clifford, from 
1867 to 1876 ; Henry A. Whitney, from 1876 to the present time. 
Five treasurers have successively held the office, namely : Wil- 
liam Appleton, from 1831 to 1832 ; John F. Loring, from 1832 to 
1841 ; Henry Dalton, from 1841 to 1861 : David Tyler, from 
1861 to 1867; Benjamin B. Torrey, since 1867. 

The road has had only four superintendents, all gentlemen well 
fitted by their previous knowledge of the road to fill the position 
with credit. William G. McNeil, who made the first surveys 



18 



Digitized by 



Google 



M4 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



and was very active in promoting the interests of the corporation, 
was chosen superintendent in 1 831, and held the office until 1835. 
His successor was William Raymond Lee, who had also been 
closely identified with the enterprise from its inception, and mate- 
rially aided in securing its completion. He managed its affairs 
until 1853, and then gave place to Daniel Nason, who was one of 
the men engaged in the construction of the road, and subsequently 
in operating it, until he became superintendent. In 1867 the 
present incumbent, Albert A. Folsom, was chosen to the position, 
and for nearly two decades he has filled the office with signal 
ability. He is a native of Exeter, N. H., and in 1854, when but 
twenty years of age, was appointed general ticket agent of the 
road. Six years later he was promoted to the office of superin- 
tendent of transportation in this city, and in 1864 he became assist- 
ant superintendent. Three years later, as already stated, he as- 
sumed the duties of his present office and removed to Boston. 

When Mr. Folsom resigned the office of superintendent of 
transportation, the vacancy was filled by Mr. Henry A. Chace, 
of this city, who had been in the employ of the corporation for 
six years, and who held it up to the time of his death in 1884, 
when the management appointed to succeed him, Mr. George L. 
Greene, who had been a faithful servant of the road for fifteen 
years, and who still performs the duties of his position with 
acceptance. There are two other citizens of Providence whose 
long and honorable connection with this railroad entitles them to 
mention : Mr. John Daily, one of the oldest employes, who is 
still on the company's pay-roll, though he retired from active 
service several years ago ; and Mr. Hezekiah Martin, who has 
been one of the most popular conductors on the road for twenty- 
two years. 

The present officers of the corporation are : president, Henry 
A. Whitney, of Milton, Mass. ; treasurer, Benjamin B. Torrey, 
of Boston ; clerk of corporations, Winslow Warren, of Dedham ; 
superintendent, Albert A. Folsom, of Boston ; general passenger 
agent, James Daily, of Boston ; general freight agent, William 
H. Morrell, of Dedham. 

The main road has a double track of steel rails throughout its 
length, is kept in excellent order, and is one of the safest roads in 
the country. Most of the passenger stations on the line are pro- 
vided with new and costly buildings, and that at the Boston ter- 
minus is one of the most elegant in the world. The rolling stock 
and other equipments are second to none, the passenger tariff is 
reduced to the minimum rate, and it has been the uniform policy 
of the management to afford the patrons of the road every reason- 
able accommodation. 

The last annual report of the board of railroad commissioners 
for the State of Massachusetts contains the following interesting 
statistics for the year ending September, 1885 : tota l income, 
$1,667,066.13 ; total operating expenses, $190,374.71 ; number of 
passengers carried, 5,612,410; number of passengers to Boston, 
including season ticket holders, 2,076,982 ; number of passengers 
from Boston, including season ticket holders, 2,147,488; num- 
ber of tons of freight, 709,853 ; total miles of road owned by the 
corporation, 63,752 ; number of locomotives, 57 ; number of pas- 
senger cars, 150 ; number of parlor or sleeping cars, 24 ; number 
of baggage, mail, and express cars, 25 ; number of freight cars, 
503 ; number of other cars, 392. 

The New York, Providence and Boston Railroad. — 
The projection of a railroad to connect the cities of Providence 
and Boston drew the attention of capitalists to the importance of 
extending the line westward to New York, and the General As- 
sembly of Rhode Island passed the necessary act of incorporation 
in June, 1832, and the gentlemen named in the charter were 
Oliver D. Wells, Samuel Whittemore, John Y. Gray, Robert P. 
Bell, Joseph Goddard, Isaac Champlin, Charles Perry, John H. 



Cross, Lyndon Taylor, Paul Babcock, Jr., George W. Gavitt, 
George Wells, Jesse L. Moss, Peter Crary, Courtlandt Palmer, 
John S. Crary, S. F. Denison, C. H. Phelps, Gurdon Trumbull, 
and their associates. By the terms of the legislative act this cor- 
poration was to be known as the New York, Providence & Boston 
Railroad Company, and was authorized to locate and construct 
a railroad from the city of Providence to the state line of Connec- 
ticut, at a point on the Pawcatuck River in the town of Westerly. 

In furtherance of the enterprise the General Assembly of Con- 
necticut prepared the way for an extension of the line, by incor- 
porating during the same summer the New York & Stonington 
Railroad Company, with power to construct a road between the 
Pawcatuck River at the eastern boundary of the state to the 
borough of Stonington. Thus by the almost simultaneous legis- 
lative action of the two states nearly fifty miles of the proposed 
road was chartered, and to facilitate the operations of the two 
companies, the General Assemblies concurred again in constitut- 
ing the stockholders in each company stockholders in the other, 
so that whenever the New York & Stonington Company located 
its road at Westerly, the two companies should be united and 
constitute one corporation, under the name of the New York, 
Providence & Boston Railroad Company, a provision which was 
complied with Sept. 24, 1833. 

The work of building the road occupied several years, but it 
was substantially finished, so that the track was open for travel be- 
tween Hill's wharf in Providence and Stonington, March 10, 
1837. By the provisions of the charter it was also obligatory on 
the company to establish a line of steamboats to run between Ston- 
ington and New York, and for this purpose the steamer "Stoning- 
ton" was procured and placed on the line. This was the only 
passenger boat in use until May, 1838, when arrangements were 
made to run one boat belonging to the Boston & Providence 
Railroad & Transportation Company, and another belonging to 
Cornelius Vanderbilt, of New York. Another important con- 
nection required under the charter was the ferry plying between 
the terminus of this road on the west side of the harbor and the 
terminus of the Boston and Providence Railroad at India Point. 

The road had been successfully opened and its trains were run- 
ning with a good degree of regularity, when, in 1839, its opera- 
tions were embarrassed and its continuance threatened by finan- 
cial troubles. A large amount of bonds issued by the company 
fell due, and in consequence of their failure to pay either the 
principal or interest, the trustees under the second and third 
mortgages took possession of the property of the road, and it was 
five years before the corporation was able to redeem it. Still they 
managed to keep the road in operation, and in 1843 new bonds 
were issued to holders of the defaulted obligations and the debt 
was reduced one-half, so that the directors were allowed to regain 
possession of the property. 

The financial cloud resting on the road did not prevent the 
officers of the company from devising means to promote the ex- 
tension and greater usefulness of the line. As early as 1842 the 
directors were authorized to use their influence to secure legis- 
lation in Massachusetts favoring the construction of a " link " to 
run through the city of Providence and the village of Paw- 
tucket, to connect their road with the Boston and Providence, a 
project that was consummated in 1848, after the Providence and 
Worcester road was built. The desired union was effected by 
means of an extension of this road from Hill's wharf to a point on 
the Cove where the Union depot was subsequently erected, and 
the building of a branch of the Boston and Providence Railroad 
from East Junction to the track of the Worcester road which had 
already extended its line to the Cove. By this arrangement the 
ferry across the harbor was avoided, and passengers could ride 
between Stonington and Boston without changing cars. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



'K 



Another enterprise of which the New York, Providence & 
Boston Railroad Company never lost sight, was the continuation 
of their track along the Connecticut south shore until eventually 
they should possess an " all rail " line from Boston to New York 
City. In pursuance of this idea the company obtained authority, 
in 1858, to lease such portions of the New Haven, New London 
and Stonington Railroad as in the judgment of the company would 
promote the public interest. But as this road was unfinished be- 
tween New London and Stonington, steps were taken to have 
that portion built and ready for use in January, 1858, by which 
means the company extended their lines to New Haven, and 
made connection with the road already in operation between that 
city and New York. Six years later by the purchase of the link 
between Stonington and New London, the company became 
owners of the entire main line in their possession to-day. 

In September, i860, the steamboat terminus of the road was 
removed from Stonington to Groton, where the water approaches 
seemed to be more advantageous. It remained there until 1866, 
when the burning of the depot buildings, wharf, and the steamer 
kt Commonwealth," necessitated an immediate return to the Ston- 
ington terminus, which was put in thorough repair at considerable 
cost, and has been retained ever since. 

No permanent branch roads have been constructed by the com- 
pany, but in January, 1880, they leased the Pontiac and the Paw- 
tuxet Valley branches, already built, and in the following June, 
purchased the Warwick and Oakland Beach road. In 1884, they 
purchased also the Pontiac branch. 

Since the road was established there have been many changes 
in the principal officers of the corporation. The presidential suc- 
cession has been as follows : John S. Crary, from 1833 to 1837 5 
Courtlandt Palmer, from 1837 to 1843 ; ElishaPeck, from 1843 to 
1847 5 Cornelius Vanderbilt, from 1847 to May 14, 1849 ? Daniel 
Drew, from May 14, 1849, to Mav 2 9> ^49 ; Elisha Peck, from 
May 29, 1849, to l8 5° 5 Charles P. Williams, from 1850 to 1856 ; 
Giles F. Ward, from 1855 to 1858 ; Matthew Morgan, from 1858 
to i860 ; James I. Day, from i860 to 1867 ; Samuel D. Babcock, 
from 1867 to the present time. The treasurers of the road have 
been: John S. Crary, from 1833 to 1837; Nathaniel Thurston, 
from 1837 to l8 3 8 5 J ohn L - Tiffany, from 1838 to 1839 5 Francis 
Amy, from 1839 to l86 3 5 Ira H. Palmer, from 1863 to 1867; 
Henry Morgan, from 1867 to 1885 J A - R - Lon gl ev > J r -» fr° m ^85 
to the present date. 

No superintendent was appointed until the year 1850, but A. 
S. Mathews was road-master from 1837, when the road was opened 
for traffic, until his appointment as superintendent in 1850. He 
discharged his official duties and managed the affairs of the road 
with great ability until failing health compelled him to resign in 
1879. His successor, Mr. J. B. Gardiner, had been a well-tried, 
faithful servant of the company for many years before he was 
promoted to the superintendency, and was very popular ; at one 
time he was a conductor, and for several years previous to the 
resignation of Mr. Mathews, he had performed the duties of his 
superior, in the capacity of assistant superintendent, and was 
acting superintendent for a while after the vacancy occurred. 
Mr. Gardiner is thoroughly identified with the success of the 
road, and as a citizen of Providence is public-spirited and highly 
esteemed. 

Ever since the line of the road has been continued to New 
Haven the company has had to provide transportation across two 
wide rivers, the Thames and the Connecticut, which was effected 
in both cases by ferry boats until 1870, when a substantial draw- 
bridge was built across the latter river, and although a similar pro- 
vision for the Thames has been discussed at the annual meetings, 
the boats as yet continue to be the only means of crossing. 

The present officers of the road are : president, Samuel D. Bab- 




WILLIAM E. CHAMBERLAIN, 
Superintendent of the Providence and Worcester Railroad. 

cock, of New York ; vice-president, George M. Miller, of New 
York ; general manager, J. W. Miller, of New York ; superin- 
tendent, J. B. Gardiner, of Providence ; secretary and treasurer, 
Andrew R. Longley, Jr., of Stonington; general ticket agent, 
O. H. Briggs, of Providence ; general freight agent, E. F. Brad- 
ford, of Providence ; general auditor, W. D. Basley, of Ston- 
ington ; purchasing agent, J. L. Hayden. 

The annual report of the directors for the fiscal year ending 
Sept. 30, 1885, contains the following statistics of the business 
and property of the road: gross earnings $1,139,886.05; total 
operating expenses, $761,515.66 ; capital stock, $3,000,000; total 
number of passengers carried, 1,431,264; amount of freight car- 
ried 403,359 tons ; total miles of road operated and controlled by 
the company, 82.76 ; double track Providence to Mystic, 53 miles ; 
number of locomotives, 33 ; number of passenger cars, 47 ; num- 
ber of baggage and mail cars, 1 1 ; number of baggage crate flat 
cars, 3 ; number of merchandise cars, 154 ; number of other cars, 
239 ; number of ferry boats, 2. 

The road is in excellent condition. The roadway, tracks, 
bridges, depots, buildings, and rolling stock are kept up to a high 
standard. All real improvements are adopted by the company 
which are conducive to the comfort and safety of passengers and 
for the rapid handling of freight. 

The Providence & Worcester Railroad Company. — In 
1835 railway communication was opened to the east — to the 
chief city of New England, — and in 1837, quick transportation 
was introduced to the south and south-west — to the capital com- 
mercial city of the Union. The next demand in the march of 
progress was a track through the Blackstone Valley. In March, 
1844, the Providence & Worcester Railroad Company was 
incorporated by the legislature of Massachusetts, and in May of 
the same year, by the General Assembly of Rhode Island. The 
names given in the charter are: Amherst Everett, William 
Rhodes, Ebenezer Kelley, Josiah Whitaker, Alexander Duncan, 
Moses B. Ives, Harvey Chace, Christopher S. Rhodes, James 
Y. Smith, Joseph Carpenter, Isaac Thurber, Edward H. Sprague, 
William Jackson, Samuel Wood, John W. Lincoln, Welcome 
Farnum, George C. Ballou, Allen O. Peck, George W. Hallett, 
William Foster, Thomas Kinnicut, Wilbur Kelley, Samuel 
Greene, Paul Whitin, and Robert R. Stafford. 

By the terms of the charter the corporators were made the 
directors of the company until the first Monday in February, 
when the first annual meeting was held. The charter stipulated 



Digitized by 



Google 



i;6 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



also that the stock, 10,000 shares at $100 each, should be sub- 
scribed on or before the first day of June, 1847, and that the 
railway be completed on or before the first day of June, 1850. 
Both conditions were fulfilled. The directors first elected by the 
stockholders in 1845 were: Alexander Duncan, Moses B. Ives, 
Harvey Chace, James Y. Smith, Christopher S. Rhodes, Orray 
Taft, A. O. Peck, George W. Hallett, William Foster, Earl P. 
Mason, Charles S. Fisher, Moses B. Lock wood, Jacob Little, 
John Barstow, N. F. Potter, Duty Greene, Charles Dyer, Gideon 
L. Spencer, and Aaron Rathbone. 

At the first meeting of the directors to elect officers, Alexander 
Duncan was made president, Allen O. Peck, clerk, and Joseph 
Carpenter, treasurer. The Cove question became prominent early 
in the history of the company, and led to as much discussion as 
employed forty years later. Authorized by the General Assem- 
bly by acts passed in 1841 and 1845, the city council granted to 
the Providence & Worcester Railroad Company, the right to use 
a part of the Cove for railway purposes on various conditions, 
the fulfilling of which left the Cove practically as it is to-day. 
This grant was made in January, 1846. Opponents strong in pur- 
pose appeared, and petitioned the city council to stay proceed- 
ings. One argument of the memorialists was that the filling of 
the Cove would " seriously injure, if not endanger, the very 
existence of the natural channel of our river " between Fox Point 
and Weybosset Bridge. Another memorial presented the same 
plea, but was devoted chiefly to the theory of a park. The 
names of some of the signers of this petition appeared as re- 
monstrants against the further filling of the Cove basin in 1885. 
The remonstrants applied to the General Assembly for relief, and 
were met by a counter petition signed by Alexander Duncan, 
accompanied by a memorial to the city council, signed by 1,350 of 
the business men of the city. The outcome of the whole matter 
was the adoption of, or the adherence to, the plans that placed the 
Cove in its present environment. 

At the first meeting of the stockholders after the union of the 
Massachusetts company and the Rhode Island company, the 
following directors were added to those already given : John W. 
Lincoln, Joseph Carpenter, Paul Whitin, Joseph Thayer, George 
T. Rice, and John F. Pond. In 1846 John Barstow was elected 
president of the company, John R. Balch, employed in the 
office of the company at its organization, was appointed clerk in 
1847, an( * nas ne ^ tne °ffi ce to the present time, serving as treas- 
urer, also, since 1850. 

The first passenger train passed over the railway on Sept. 27, 
1847. *t was a " great event" in the history of the Blackstone 
Valley. The inhabitants along the route of the railway and 
from regions remote assembled to see the train go by, or to ride 
upon it, that it might be said of them that they were among the 
passengers on the first train. The day was a holiday throughout 
the valley. The railway was soon in complete running order, 
and the first annual report dates from January, 1848. The pas- 
senger station on Exchange Place was completed in 1848. This 
structure remains to-day. In 1848, Orray Taft was elected pres- 
ident, and remained in office till 1853, and his successors have 
been : Welcome Farnum, 1854 to l %5& 5 Horatio N. Slater, 1859 5 
Earl P. Mason, i860 to 1872 ; William S. Slater, 1873 to 1878 ; 
George A. Leete, who became president in 1879, and died in 
office on April 12, 1884; he was succeeded on June 11, 1884, by 
Estus Lamb who is now serving. 

The first superintendent was T. Willis Pratt, who was engaged 
in the survey for the railway. He served till 1848, and was fol- 
lowed by Isaac Hinckley. He was succeeded by Isaac H. 
Southwick in 1849, who was in office till 1854. He was followed 
by John B. Winslow, 1855 ; Stephen H. Taber, 1856 to 1865 ; 
William D. Hilton, 1866 to 1877 ; William E. Chamberlain, 1878 
to the present time. 



In the annual report for 1879 is the following paragraph : " The 
directors would congratulate the* stockholders on the improved 
condition of the company brought about mainly in the last two 
years by a system of thorough economy, in the carrying out of 
which we have been most ably seconded by our efficient superin- 
tendent, Mr. William E. Chamberlain, who, with most inde- 
fatigable industry and untiring perseverance in the management 
of the affairs of the different departments under his charge, has 
most successfully contributed to the reviving prosperity of the com- 
pany, and we feel that we cannot let this opportunity pass without 
speaking in terms of commendation as to his management, integ- 
rity, and ability." 

William M. Durfee entered the employ of the company in 1853, 
at Worcester, as ticket and freight clerk. In 1857 he returned to 
Providence, and became general ticket agent, and auditor of 
passenger and freight accounts, holding these offices till 1866. 
In that year Mr. Durfee was appointed general passenger and 
ticket agent, and assistant superintendent, and in these capacities 
has served the company to the present time. Previously to 1867 
the freight traffic was under the supervision of an agent at each 
terminus. These agents continue in office, but in 1867 the office 
of general freight agent was created, and Julius E. Bacon was 
appointed to the office, which he still retains. The agent in 
Providence is John Sanford. The present directors of the road 
are : Estus Lamb, Gideon L. Spencer, E. B. Stoddard, Lyman 

A. Cook, M. B. I. Goddard, Frederick Grinnell, Joseph E. 
Davis, Oscar J. Rathbun, David K. Phillips, Jonas G. Clark, 

B. F. Thurston, Charles E. Whitin, J. W. Danielson, and Wil- 
liam E. Chamberlain. 

As early as 1854, the laying of a second track was proposed, 
but no action was taken till ten years later. In 1865 a double track 
was completed from Boston switch to Lonsdale ; in 1867 to Ash- 
ton ; in 1868 to Albion, and in 1869 to Waterford. Work was 
suspended till 1872, when a second track was completed from 
Worcester to Farnumsville, and to Whitins in 1881. In 1882 the 
double track was completed, except half a mile of track near 
Whitins, and an eighth of a mile near the Millville ledges ; in 1883 
the Whitins part was built, in 1884 tne P art near Millville, and in 
1885 the double track was opened to traffic throughout its length. 
The marginal railway on Dyer Street was laid to Dorrance Street 
in 1852, and a part of the track on South Water Street was com- 
pleted in 1853. It was extended to Fox Point by way of South 
Main Street in 1855, and in 1867 through South Water Street to 
the same terminus. The East Providence branch was ready for 
use in 1874, and the Wilkesbarre property was purchased in 1883. 
The first dividend, amounting to six per cent., was declared in 
1852. The Union station in Worcester was entered in 1878 ; the 
Westinghouse air brake was introduced in 1878, and the system 
of electric switches and signals, in 1882. The gross receipts in 
1850 were $202,751; i860, $393,588; 1870, $661,716; 1880, 
$1,069,644; 1885, $1,077,166. Statistics, 1885 : capital stock, 
$2,500,000 ; funded debt, $1 ,242,000 ; length of main line, 43.41 
miles ; length of double track, 42.38 miles ; total length of road, 
50.41 miles ; length of branches, 7 miles ; length of track com- 
puted as single track, 131,335 miles; passenger* carried, 2,561,- 
618 ; tons of freight carried, 828,861. 

The increase of business on this road has been remarkable for 
its regularity, and year by year the small hamlets along its line 
have matured into large villages and cities. The interests of 
these towns and villages have been promoted by the company 
with ample and even elegant accommodations in the way of sta- 
tions, train equipments, and effective service on the part of its 
employes. 

The Providence and Springfield Railroad. — The corpo- 
rators of the Woonasquatucket Railroad Company, chartered in 
J 857, were Daniel L. Salisbury, Jason Emerson, Albert L. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



'J7 



Sayles, Ira P. Evans, Clovis H. Bowen, Horace Kimball, Otis 
Sayles, George H. Browne, Nathan B. Sprague, Thomas Barnes, 
Anthony Steere, William Winsor, Elisha Dyer, Zachariah Allen, 
Philip Allen, Jr., Amos D. Smith, and Henry B. Lyman. The 
charter provided for the completion of the railway on or before 
the first day in January, 1868, but owing to the events of the late 
war the conditions were not complied with, and in 1867 the time 
was extended to March, 1871 ; then by successive legislative acts 
it was finally fixed as March, 1876. 

In 1 87 1 the name of the corporation was changed to Provi- 
dence & Springfield Railroad Company, and the General Assem- 
bly at the same time authorized the town of Burrillville to sub- 
scribe $50,000 to the capital stock of the company, and to issue 
bonds of the town in payment of such subscription. The city of 
Providence, also, was given authority to exchange its bonds for 
the bonds of the company to the amount of half a million dollars, 
or to guarantee the bonds of the company, to this amount, the 
company giving a mortgage on its property as security. 

The citizens of Burrillville who had shown great interest in 
the enterprise, voted by a large majority to issue bonds for the 
payment of the desired subscription ; and the council of the city 
of Providence voted to guarantee the bonds of the company to 
an amount equal to one-half of the cost of the construction of the 
railway, the amount not to exceed five hundred thousand dollars. 
The directors executed a mortgage upon the railway property to 
James Y. Smith, Royal C. Taft, and Lodowick Brayton, trustees. 

In 1 87 1 the preliminary surveys for the location of the railway 
were made by Mr. L. M. E. Stone, who, after the organization 
of the company, became chief engineer, and under his direction 
the road was built. The main line is a fraction less than twenty- 
three miles in length, branching from the New York and New- 
England railroad in Olneyville, and extending to the village of 
Pascoag. The roadway follows the Woonasquatucket River, 
the Tarkiln River, and the Clear River, a course favorable for the 
construction and operation of the road. The directors named in 
the first report, made Dec. 2, 1872, were William Tinkham, Al- 
bert L. Sayles, Edward Pierce, Amos N. Beckwith, M. B. I. 
Goddard, L. M. E. Stone, Henry C. Clark, Horace A. Kimball, 
and James O. Inman. William Tinkham was president ; Jabez 
C. Knight, clerk and secretary ; Lemuel M. E. Stone, superin- 
tendent and treasurer. 

The road was opened to travel in 1873 and trains began to run 
on the nth of August. In December of that year, Milton A. 
Clyde and John L. Ross were added to the board of directors. 
In the first report, covering an entire year, made Sept. 30, 1874, 
the following interesting data are given : Capital authorized by 
charter, $1 ,000,000 ; capital authorized by vote of the company, 
$500,000; stock paid in, $500,150; shares issued, 5,001; par 
value, $100; capital stock issued per mile of road, $22,329; 
floating debt, $25,156 ; funded debt, $500,000 ; proportion of debt 
to mile of road, $23,533 5 tota * cost °f roa( * to date, (September, 
1874,) $909,297 ; cost per mile, $45,056 ; cost of equipment, 
$99,714; equipment per mile, $4,451 ; passenger tariff, 3J cents 
per mile ; passengers carried, 100,576 ; merchandise carried, 24,- 
960 tons ; income from passenger traffic, $40,345 ; from freight 
traffic, $31,313; total income, $74,004; income above operating 
expenses, $17,821 ; total net income after paying $17,154 interest, 
$666. 

The original intent of the . corporators was to extend this road 
to Springfield, Mass., which would give the city of Providence 
a short, direct route to the West. In May, 1881, the General 
Assembly incorporated the Providence, Webster & Springfield 
Railroad Company. The corporators were William Tinkham, 
Albert L. Sayles, Horace A. Kimball, James O. Inman, John L. 
Ross, and Henry Lippitt. The time allowed for the construc- 




WILLIAM TINKHAM, 

Pr«sid«nt and Superintendent of th« Providence and Springfield Railroad, 
and Manufacturer. 

tion of the road was limited to the first day of May, 1886, but 
owing to various unfavorable circumstances, the prosecution of 
the enterprise has been delayed. 

Mr. William Tinkham has served the company as president 
since its organization, and its success in great part is due to his 
interest and fidelity. Sidney Dillon, of New York, was elected 
a member of the board of directors in 1875, J. D. Nichols in 
1877, and Edward Pearce, Jr., in 1879. Jabez C. Knight has 
been the clerk of the company since 1873. Treasurers, Lemuel 
M. E. Stone, 1873; Frank W. Grammont, 1874; William A. 
Leete, 1877; E - W - Tinkham, 1878. Superintendents: L. M. 
E. Stone, 1873 ; Orrin S. Gardiner, 1874. Since 1874, William 
Ham Tinkham has acted as president and superintendent. 

The future of this railroad has to do with the future of this state 
and people. The carrying out of the original design will work 
great good to both. When accomplished this people will be 
nearer the great West, and nearer to the great bread fields of the 
world. 

William Tinkham & Company.— The town of Burrillville is 
noted for the beauty and diversity of its scenery. Rough and 
rugged it may be in wooded upland, but smooth, gently-sloping 
valleys lie between. In one of these sheltered and sheltering 
lowlands on the bank of the Clear River is the handsome mill 
property of William Tinkham & Company. The cluster of 
buildings is an attraction in itself, and with its picturesque en- 
vironment is fair to look upon from any of the surrounding hills. 

The property is located in the village of Harrisville, one mile 
from the centre of Burrillville town. The business carried on 
originally was established in 1856, by Messrs. Steere and Tink- 
ham. In 1873 the firm was Messrs. Tinkham & Farwell, and in 
1879 Ernest W. Tinkham was admitted to partnership, and the 
firm's name became Tinkham, Farwell & Company. Mr. Far- 
well withdrew from the company in 1884, and the style of the 
firm became William Tinkham & Company. 



Digitized by 



Google 



«*8 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



When the works were established, the manufacture of satinets 
received the attention of the company, but in i860 the machinery 
was changed to accommodate the manufacture of fancy cassi- 
meres until 1S81, when fancy worsteds became the staple manu- 
facture. This has been the product to the present day, and it has 
made its own way in the market and established a high reputation. 
The goods known under the names of "Newmarket" and "Em- 
pire " brands have no superior competitors. The total out-put of 
the mill is handled by Messrs. Hinck & Company, of 53 Worth 
Street, New York City. 

The main part of the mill structure is of stone, 40 x 165 feet ; 
a wing on one side measures 60 x* 106 feet, and another on the 
other side, 22 x 105 feet, the whole building occupying an area 
of about a third of an acre. The power is water, supplemented 
by steam. Ten sets of cards and 124 broad looms are employed. 
The mill's machinery has been changed three times in the course 
of its history, and the mill is to-day equipped with the best appli- 
ances known for the production of textile fabrics. The persons 
employed number about three hundred and seventy-five. 

William Tinkham, president of the Providence & Springfield 
Railroad Company, was born in Harmony village, Glocester, on 
July 8, 1823. He is a lineal descendant of Hezekiah Tinkham, 
who came from England during the Revolutionary War, settled 
in Glocester, and was a blacksmith by occupation. William 
Tinkham is the son of Nehemiah and Alzada (Andrews) Tink- 
ham, and the oldest of six children. The parents and children 
are all now living. William Tinkham received a. good educa- 
tion, begun in the district school and finished in the Smithville 
Academy, later widely known as the Lapham Institute of North 
Scituate. According to the good practice followed in earlier 
days, he learned a trade — the trade of a blacksmith, — but unable 
to follow it, owing to ill- health, entered, in 1844, a store in 
Greenville. Here he served as clerk for a few months, and then 
became proprietor. 

In 1853, associated with Job Steere, he hired a woolen mill in 
Mapleville, and, with one set of machinery, began the manufacture 
of tweeds and yarns. Determined to follow the business of 
manufacturing, Mr. Tinkham began in the lowest position in his 
own mill and worked his way by the side of his operatives, passing 
through all grades of work, and perfecting himself in every 
branch. In 1856 the firm of Steere & Tinkham became owners 
of the property included within the village of Harrisville, and 
improved the plant by a large outlay. The business was suc- 
cessful, and has steadily increased to the present time. Mr. Tink- 
ham has made his home in Providence since 1868, and has been 
closely identified with its interests — social, commercial, religious, 
and political. In 1868 he became interested, with his brother and 
Franklin Metcalf, in stocking and operating the Carolina mills, 
in the town of Richmond. This partnership ceased in 1878. 
The firm of Steere & Tinkham was dissolved in 1873, when Mr. 
Tinkham purchased his partners' interest and formed a new com- 
pany with Mr. F. S. Farwell, the firm's name being Tinkham & 
Farwell. Mr. Ernest W. Tinkham, son of the senior partner, 
was admitted to partnership in 1878. Mr. Farwell withdrew 
from the firm in 1884, anc ^ tne firm's name was changed to Wil- 
liam Tinkham & Company, and thus remains at the present time, 
1886. 

Mr. Tinkham was elected to the General Assembly in 1866, 
and became president of the Providence & Springfield Railroad 
Company in 1871, and has also been president and general man- 
ager of the road since 1874. The success of the enterprise from 
its inception is due mainly to the energy and perseverance of its 
president. 

The New York and New England Railroad. — The 
first section built in this state of what is now known as the New 



York and New England Railroad, was constructed by the Provi- 
dence & Plainfield Railroad Company, from Providence to the 
state line of Connecticut. This corporation was chartered by 
the General Assembly in June, 1846, and granted permission to 
unite with any other company which should subsequently con- 
tinue the road westward, and form one company. This union 
was virtually affected in 1852. In 1849 tne legislature of Con- 
necticut granted the New York & Hartford Railroad Company 
and the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill Railroad Company per- 
mission to consolidate as the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill ; 
and in 1852 the Providence & Plainfield Company was merged 
into this union, which operated the road between Providence and 
Waterbury, Conn. August, 1863, an agreement was made be- 
tween the Boston, Hartford & Erie Railroad Company, chartered 
by Connecticut in July of the same year, and the Hartford, Prov- 
idence & Fishkill Company, conveying the road owned by the 
latter to the former company, both by deed and by a lease for 
nine hundred and ninty-nine years. This company, the Boston, 
Hartford & Erie, was dissolved in 1873 by a decree of the Con- 
necticut courts, and the New York & New England Railroad 
Company obtained possession of the road. Desiring to estab- 
lish a line from Boston to Providence, this company leased the 
road of the Rhode Island & Massachusetts Company, which was 
originally chartered in 1865 as the Rhode Island Mining Railroad 
Company, and opened for traffic in 1872. This link connected 
their main line at Franklin, Mass., with Valley Falls, and in 
1877 tne New York & New England Company established a 
Providence line, via Valley Falls, and over the track of the Prov- 
idence and Worcester road to the Union depot in Providence. By 
means of the Hudson River extension, so-called, built from Wa- 
terbury to Fishkill-on-the-Hudson in 1881, the road has a direct 
line of communication, via Newburgh to the West. 

The Providence, Warren & Bristol Railroad Com- 
pany took its present name in 1852, but was originally chartered 
as the Providence & Bristol Company in 1850, by the General 
Assembly of Rhode Island. At that time the portion of its track 
between East Providence and Barrington lay in territory belonging 
to Massachusetts, and in 1852 a charter was also obtained from the 
legislature of that state. The road was opened for traffic in Janu- 
ary, 1855, and has always been owned and operated by the cor- 
poration by which it was built; but the Boston & Providence 
Railroad Company have a controlling interest in its stock, and 
the president of that road, Mr. Henry A. Whitney, holds the 
same office in this company. Mr. A. A. Folsom of the Boston 
& Providence, is also its general superintendent. The first 
superintendent was George S. Greene, under whose supervision 
the road was constructed. He was appointed superintendent 
June 23, 1855. He was succeeded by L. M. E. Stone, May 7, 
1856. Waterman Stone succeeded his father, L. M. E. Stone, 
in the superintendency of the road June 13, 1871, and has contin- 
ued to conduct the affairs of the road to the present time. Many 
improvements have been made under Mr. Stone's direction, the 
most important, perhaps, being the change whereby the switching 
of the engine is avoided at East Providence, enabling trains to 
enter the city without stopping, thus saving much time. 

The Fall River, Warren & Providence Railroad Cor- 
poration was formed by the consolidation of the Fall River 
& Warren Company, chartered in Massachusetts, and the War- 
ren & Fall River Company, chartered in Rhode Island. The 
road was opened May 22, i860. The property was sold to the 
Old Colony Railroad Company about twelve years ago, and is 
now owned and operated by them. 

The Providence, Norfolk and Baltimore Line. — The 
Merchants and Miners Transportation Company, of Baltimore, 
Md., was incorporated by the General Assembly of Maryland, 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



•39 



April 24, 1852, with a capital stock of $100,000, with the privilege 
of increasing it to $300,000. But little was done to organize the 
company for business until 1853, when a committee visited Boston, 
but they met with so little encouragement, that further efforts 
were postponed until 1854, when the subscription lists were again 
opened, and were pushed with energy and crowned with such 
success that $120,000 were soon subscribed in Baltimore and 
$80,000 in Boston, making the capital stock $200,000, and Messrs. 
J. W. Pottle & Company, of Boston, being the largest subscribers, 
were appointed the Boston agents of the new line. 

Two new large side-wheel steamers comprised the new line, 
the "William Jenkins" and "Joseph Whitney," the "Whitney" 
making the initial trip to Baltimore in sixty hours, Dec. 28, 1854. 
In 1859 tne company increased its capital stock from $200,000 to 
$300,000, and added the new steamers "Benjamin Deford" and 
" S. R. Spaulding." In 1861, the "Whitney" was sold, and the 
"Deford "and "Spaulding" leased to the government for war 
transports, and in 1864 the new steamers "William Kennedy " 
and " George Appold " were added to the line, and by 1880 its 
business had grown so large that its capital stock was increased 
to the sum of $1,000,000. 

The line from Providence to Baltimore was first started in Jan- 
uary, 1859, but the experiment proved so unremunerative that it 
was continued but a short time then, but the Providence line 
was reestablished in 1873, this time to ply between Providence, 
Norfolk, and Baltimore, and since that time has done a successful 
and growing business; in 1878, West Point, Va., where connec- 
tion is made with the Piedmont Air Line Railroad, was added 
to the regular route of the Providence line. 

The Savannah line was purchased by this company in 1876, 
and put upon a firm foundation. By this line connection is made 
at Savannah with the Central Railroad of Georgia, the Savannah, 
Florida and Western Railroad, and with all the steam lines ply- 
ing between Savannah and other Georgia and Florida ports, and 
this appendix to the line has built up a large and growing busi- 
ness, profitable from the start. The Merchants and Miners Trans- 
portation Company's fleet now consists of eleven staunch steam- 
ships, the last six ships being built of iron with a much larger 
tonnage than any of their older ships. The company owns in 
addition to their numerous vessels other valuable property in Nor- 
folk, Baltimore, and Savannah. 

The notable increase in the business of this company during the 
preceding fifteen years was manifested by the addition to the line 
since 1869 of these six new iron steamships, with so vast an in- 
crease of tonnage over their old steamers, and the extension of 
their lines to Savannah, Ga., West Point, Va., and New York 
City. 

All this company's lines continue to do a prosperous and grow- 
ing business with an assurance of further future improvement 
from the fact that the present management has been in control 
for the past fifteen years, during which period the company has 
made its most rapid and extensive advancement. 

The "Boston, Norfolk and Baltimore Line," "Providence, 
Norfolk and Baltimore Line," and " Baltimore and Savannah 
Line," are the official titles of the various lines with three large 
steamers now running from Providence, as follows : 

Providence, Norfolk and Baltimore Line — steamships "Johns 
Hopkins," 1,500 tons, Henry D. Foster, commander; " George 
Appold," 1,370 tons, E. R. Warren, commander ; " Blackstone," 
1,150 tons, S. Ryder, commander. 

The steamers of this line connect at Norfolk with the following 
named railroad and water routes : the Virginia and Tennessee 
Air Line, to Selma, Montgomery, and New Orleans, and all inter- 
vening points by local connecting routes ; Chesapeake and Ohio 
and Kanawha Dispatch Line, connecting at Newport News, Va., 




WATERMAN STONE, 
Superintendent of the Providence, Warren and Bristol Railroad. 

(the deep water terminus), and with the Baltimore and Ohio and 
Continental Fast Freight Line at Baltimore, for all points west 
and southwest; with the Atlantic Coast Line, through Weldon, 
Goldsboro, and Wilmington, N. C, to Florence, S. C, connect- 
ing there with the Georgia Railroad for all points further south ; 
the Seaboard Air Line, from Portsmouth, Va., to Weldon, N. C, 
connecting there with other railroad routes, and at Franklin, Va., 
with the Black Water River steamers, connecting at Norfolk, 
also, with the James River steamers for Old Point Comfort and 
Richmond ; with the Clyde Line and Old Dominion steamers to 
New Berne, N. C, by the sea route, and by the Norfolk and Wash- 
ington steamers with Washington, sailing past those great historic 
' places Fortress Monroe, Mount Vernon, and Alexandria, up the 
Potomac River to the national capital. 

The following-named gentlemen are the present board of offi- 
cers of this company : president, George J. Appold, Baltimore, 
Md. ; vice-president, Henry A. Whitney, Boston, Mass. ; secre- 
tary to the president, George P. Maris, Baltimore, Md. Agents : 
Elisha H. Rockwell, agent, John H. Gregory, assistant agent, 
Providence, R. I. ; George E. Smalley, agent, C. P. Gaither, 
soliciting agent, Boston, Mass. ; A. L. Huggins, agent, C. R. 
Gillingham, assistant agent, Baltimore, Md. ; V. D. Groner, 
agent, James N. Bell, assistant agent, Norfolk, Va. 

This line is now firmly and permanently established as one of 
the most extensive and successful commercial enterprises and 
institutions of our city and time, that has grown to its present 
magnitude and prosperity, and therefore has largely contributed 
to the general business interests and welfare of the city and state, 
under the able management, direction, and control of the Provi- 
dence agent, Elisha H. Rockwell. 

Mr. Rockwell is also agent for Providence and vicinity for the 



Digitized by 



Google 



140 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




ELISHA H. ROCKWELL, < 

Provid«nc« Agent of th« Providence, Norfolk and Baltimore Steamship Company. 

Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Air Line Railroad ; the Atlantic 
Coast and Piedmont Air Line ; the Chesapeake and Ohio and 
Baltimore and Ohio railroad lines ; the Continental Fast Freight 
and Kanawha Dispatch lines. 

Elisha Hutchinson Rockwell, the Providence agent of this line 
from the time it was reestablished here in 1873, was born in the 
town of Lebanon, Conn., Oct. 16, 1829, the fifth son of Jabez and 
Eunice (Bailey) Rockwell, of that town, who were the parents 
of ten sons and three daughters. At the early age of eight and 
a half years he was "bound out," as it was then called, to Mr. 
Timothy E. Metcalf, of the same town, to work on his farm — 
which for boys of those days meant long hours and hard labor 
at all kinds of farm work — for three years, for the small compen- 
sation of his board and clothing and four months' schooling in 
the winter of each year. At the end of this term of service, when 
nearly twelve years old. he went to work on the farm of David 
S. Woodworth, in the same town, and on the same terms, and 
served with him two years. He next took a position in the woolen 
mill of Henry Gillette, at Bozrahville, Conn., being then about 
fifteen, and remained there two years, and then took a better 
position in the woolen mill of the Rockville Manufacturing Com- 
pany, at Rockville, Conn., and after two years' service there he 
went to Norwich, Conn., when he was about twenty, to learn the 
trade of lettering monuments and tombstones at the marble works 
of his older brother, John M. Rockwell, where, after serving two 
of his three years of apprenticeship, he bought his time for the 
third year, for a nominal sum, and then left that business. 

The steamer " Charles Osgood," built at Norwich, Conn., in 
1850, to run in opposition to the Norwich and New York line 
of steamers, was then nearly ready to go upon the route, when 
Mr. Rockwell was offered and accepted the berth of clerk on the 
new steamer, but before starting she was transferred from the 
opposition to the regular line, he retaining his position as clerk 



to the " Osgood" for the next eighteen months. The Norwich & 
New London Transportation Company, in 1852, tendered to him 
the New York agency of their line of freight steamers, which he 
accepted at the age of twenty-three years, with his office located 
at Pier No. 12, North River, New York, filling this position for 
six years, creditably and satisfactorily to his employers, until the 
line was discontinued in November of the panic year of 1857. 

When the steamers " Charles Osgood " and u Osceola " were 
started as an opposition line between Norwich, New London, 
and New York, Jan. 1, 1858, Mr. Rockwell was appointed the 
New York agent of the new line, but had held that position only 
eighteen months, when he was engaged by William P. Williams, 
Esq., of New York, (the well-known steamship manager and 
originator of the Neptune Steamship Company's Line to Provi- 
dence,) as one of the agents for his line of steamers to Providence 
and Boston, when the new steamers then being built at New York 
by Van Dusen Brothers were completed, but the Civil War break- 
ing out before Ihey were ready for use on the line, they were 
chartered to the government for transports, Mr. Rockwell con- 
tinuing in the employ of Mr. Williams to the end of his two years' 
engagement. He next became a partner in the shipping and 
commission house of Bentley, Smith & Company, at No. 7 2 
South Street, New York, remaining there but one year. He then 
reengaged himself to Mr. William P. Williams for another term of 
two years as agent of the Neptune Steamship Company, for their 
line to both Boston and Providence, direct from New York, at 
first taking the agency at Boston for the outside line direct to New 
York, with office on Central Wharf, and also for the inside line 
via Providence, with office at No. 15 State Street. Not long 
after the steamers of these outside lines were sold to the Metropol- 
itan Steamship Company, the management changed, and Mr. 
Rockwell retired from the agency of the line, but continued with 
Mr. Williams in other employ until the end of his two years' 
term. 

In 1867 he was appointed the Providence agent of the Provi- 
dence & New York Steamship Company, and at once inaugu- 
rated the business of the new line with two steamers, " Warrior " 
and " Triton," which were run temporarily from the Boston Rail- 
road dock, where the old Boston station and Union Oil Company's 
mill now stand on India Street, until the new Neptune Line 
steamers, then building, and the new dock at Fox Point Wharf 
were ready, where they were moved six months later. He occu- 
pied this position six years, the first four under the general super- 
intendence of the late Benjamin Buffum, and the last two under 
the management of William Sprague, until 1873. 

The Merchants and Miners Transportation Company soon 
after reestablished their business at this port and started their 
present line from Providence to Norfolk and Baltimore, and im- 
mediately secured Mr. Rockwell's services as their managing 
agent for Providence and its environs, late in the year 1873, which 
responsible position he has since so ably filled, and still holds. 

The Winsor Line of Steamers to Philadelphia. — The 
u Winsor line" of steamers, at first called the " Empire line," 
and later the " Keystone line," was first established to run as 
freight steamers between Providence and Philadelphia, in 1866, by 
J. M. Huntington & Company, of Norwich, Conn. In 1872 the 
line was sold to Henry Winsor, of Philadelphia, by whom a new 
company was soon afterwards formed and incorporated by the 
Massachusetts legislature, with the title of the " Boston & Phila- 
delphia Steamship Company," with its shipping port at Provi- 
dence, transporting the freight received here to Boston and else- 
where by rail. 

The new line commenced business here early in 1866, with its 
first office at the Boston Railroad Company's wharf on India 
Street, at the foot of Ives, remaining here six years until the 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



141 




THE DOCKS, FREIGHT HOUSES, AND YARDS OF THE PROVIDENCE, NORFOLK, AND BALTIMORE STEAMSHIP COMPANY, INDIA STREET. 



business was removed to the wharf on India, foot of South Main 
Street, in 1872. In 1875 the great increase of business with the 
line imperatively demanding larger facilities for receiving and 
shipping its steadily augmenting freight lists, it secured the larger 
quarters it required at Ives wharf, where it now has a water 
front and wharfage of 225 feet, with a freight and store-house 
225 by 60 feet, with over two acres of yard room and spur tracks 
connecting with the railroads on India Street ; with ample appli- 
ances for the receipt, quick discharge, and careful storage of 
freight. 

The line at present comprises three large screw steamers : the 
u Saxon," 1,500 tons, Capt. Samuel G. Sherman; the " Cath- 
erine Whiting," 800 tons, Capt. John H. Briggs ; the u Aries," 
1,200 tons, Capt. W. Loveland, and the " Tonawanda," 800 tons, 
kept' at Philadelphia as a spare steamer. These staunch and com- 
modious vessels are well adapted to the service, one of which 
leaves each port of the line every Wednesday and Saturday after- 
noon, and the line is now firmly established as a favorite with 
New England shippers to the south and west, and receives from 
them large freights of all kinds of manufactured goods, of cottons, 
woolens, hardware, machinery, etc., with large return cargoes of 
raw materials, comprising cotton, wool, leather, iron, hides, and 
other southern and western products. 

Though this line is independent of all others and terminates 
here and at Philadelphia, its agents forward freight from the latter 
port west by the Pennsylvania Railroad, and south by the Ocean 
Steamship Company to Savannah, and all desiring a more speedy 
delivery of their shipments than is possible by an " all water 
line," can thus be accommodated by the fast freight lines from 
Philadelphia over the Pennsylvania Railroad, with nearly equal 
advantages over the southern connections, an arrangement which 
satisfactorily meets the urgent requirements of the large class of 
shippers, to whom it offers the additional inducements of the best 
management, care, and expeditious delivery of all freight. 

The present officers of the line are as follows : president, Henry 
Winsor, of Philadelphia ; treasurer, Edward Whitney, of Boston ; 
secretary, James Hill, of Boston. Agents : Henry Winsor & Com- 
pany, at Philadelphia ; E. B. Sampson, at Boston. Mr. George 

19 



A. Kilton has been the Providence agent of this line from 1872 
to the present time. 

The Providence Line. — The history of the steam navigation 
of Narragansett Bay begins away back in 1 792 — almost a hun- 
dred years ago — with Elijah Ormsbee's little whale-boat steamer 
44 Experiment," and continues from that ancient-time nucleus, 
with many chapters of vicissitudes, fluctuations, and phases of 
great and exciting interest, slowly advancing, with many long, in- 
active intervals, but always and ever progressing, extending, and 
improving in ways and means and methods, until it has cul- 
minated in the magnificent sea-going passenger steamships 
* 4 Rhode Island" and "Massachusetts," which comprise the 
present favorite Providence Line. 

The first regular line from Providence to New York was 
started by the Rhode Island & New York Steamboat Company, 
July 12, 1822, with the steamers " Connecticut" and " Fulton." 
This line was followed by numerous other lines and steamers 
during the ensuing half century., with varying fame and fortune, 
among them the Neptune Line, started by the Spragues in 1864. 
On May 7, 1877, the through passenger line between Boston and 
New York — which had been abandoned for the thirty years 
since 1847 — was rev *ved by the present company, under the 
name of the Providence Line, continuing as a through line but a 
few seasons, when the connection with Boston again ceased, since 
which time this company has continued to run their steamers as 
a direct line from Providence to New York. Every summer sea- 
son, extending from May to October, since starting in 1877, one 
of their popular steamships has sailed every secular day with 
freight and passengers for New York, and it has become a firmly 
established and favorite line under the management of Samuel D. 
Babcock, of New York, president, and of Zephaniah Williams, of 
this city, as the Providence agent. 

The Fall River Line, one of the first and most favorably 
known lines on the bay, was started by the Fall River Iron Works 
Company, in September, 1828, to run regularly with passen- 
gers and freight from Fall River to Providence, its first steamer 
being the u Hancock," Capt. Thomas Borden. Four years later, 
in 1832, the " King Philip" was built for, and added to the line, 



Digitized by 



Google 



142 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



on Which she ran for the next twenty years or more, without 
serious accident, until sold. The now famous * ' Bradford Durfee," 
Capt. Richard Durfee, was next built and added to the line, on 
which she continued for nearly thirty years, burning to the water's 
edge and sinking at her berth in Fall River in 1870. She was 
raised, rebuilt, and run again, until she was disabled and broken 
up in 1884. The u Canonicus," the largest, and since most noted 
of their steamers, was next built for, and added to the line in 1849, 
to run between Newport, Fall River, and Providence, and on ex- 
cursions. She was a very handsome and powerful boat, 178 feet 
long, 28 feet beam, 540 tons, commanded successively by Captains 
Childs, Simmons, Allen, and William H. H. Borden. She was 
sold to the government in 1861, the first year of the war, used as 
a transport until 1865, when she was bought back by this com- 
pany, restored to her old place on the line, and for the last twenty- 
two years, under the command of Capt. Amasa P. Orswell, has 
been a favorite and fortunate regular and excursion boat, escap- 
ing all disaster to the present time. The " Metacomet," built 
and put on the line in 1862, was soon sold to the government for a 
gun-boat, renamed the " Pulaski," and never returned here after- 
wards. The "Richard Borden," their largest, fastest, and last 
new steamer, was built for and placed on the line in 1874, Cap- 
tains Orswell, Durfee, and Mason in command, successively, and 
since, with the "Canonicus," has made the regular line between 
the two ports, with both boats still running. The prominent 
characteristics of this long established line have always been reg- 
ularity, security, and stability, for which its reputation is un- 
excelled, with remarkable terms of service of its officers, Captains 
Durfee and Orswell for over thirty years, Engineer Stephen Col- 
lins and Clerk Seth R. Durfee for over forty years. Thomas 
Brownell is superintendent at Providence, David C. Lawton, 
agent at Fall River. When the Fall River Iron Works divided 
their various interests into five separate corporations in 1880, this 
line of steamers was reorganized as the " Fall River and Provi- 
dence Steamboat Company," as it is now known. 

The Continental Steamboat Company. — The American 
Steamboat Company was instituted by Benjamin BufTum to run 
a regular line to Newport, and excursion steamers to shore resorts 
on the bay, and was incorporated and organized in the spring of 
1865, with Earl P. Mason as first president, Benjamin Buffum, 
treasurer and manager; and their line of splendid excursion 
steamers, including the well-known "Bay Queen," "Day Star," 
" Crystal Wave," and others, was established, which during 
the past twenty years have safely carried so many thousand ex- 
cursionists over our beautiful bay. In 1876 this company was 
reorganized as the Continental Steamboat Company, without 
material change of ownership, and with more steamers and in- 
creased facilities still continues the business, and has always sus- 
tained the excellent name and character of the line. 

The Express Companies. — The father of the express busi- 
ness in America, which now employs 50,000 men, was William 
F. Harnden, of Boston. He was a conductor on the Boston and 
Worcester Railroad, which had then been in optration only a few 
years, and in March, 1839, ne entered into an agreement with the 
Boston & Providence Railroad Company and the New York 
steamboats running from Providence, to Carry his express pack- 
ages between the cities where their lines terminated, four times 
a week. In the course of a year after the enterprise was started 
the business had increased to such an extent that Mr. Harnden 
required the assistance of his brother, Adolphus, who perished 



at the burning of the Sound steamboat "Lexington," Jan. 13, 
1840, at which time the express lost $30,000 in specie, and a con- 
siderable amount of merchandise. 

Stimulated by the success of Mr. Harnden's business, two com- 
peting expresses were established in 1840, one by Alvin Adams and 
P. B. Burke, of Boston, under the style of Burke & Company ; 
the other by Benjamin D. and George B. Earle, of Providence, 
called the Earle Express. After a few months Mr. Burke sold out 
his interest to his partner, who then gave his name to the business, 
by which it is now well known in all parts of the country. From 
that time the Adams Express Company prospered, and in 1854 
purchased the line established by Mr. Harnden, and two years 
later absorbed also the Earle Express business. The Adams Ex- 
press has, therefore, retained a foothold in Providence for nearly 
half a century, a period in which its growth has been phenomenal. 
It is said that for some months after starting in the business Mr. 
Adams might have stowed all he carried in his hat. To-day it 
requires long trains of cars to hold the goods entrusted to the 
charge of this great company. The money it annually transports 
for the government and other parties amounts to millions of dol- 
lars, and the present value of its plant cannot be less than twenty 
millions of dollars. 

The management of the Providence business of the Adams 
Express Company is in charge Mr. William Stone, who after an 
honorable service in the late war, which he entered as a private 
and quitted as captain of Company E, Eleventh Rhode Island 
Regiment, immediately assumed the duties of his present respon- 
sible position. About forty men are employed in this city and 
twenty-five horses, which are kept in one of the finest stables in 
New England. The office is on the corner of Dorrance and Broad 
streets, where more than half a million packages are handled 
yearly. The business is largely of a monetary character, and for 
the security of valuables everything that ingenuity could devise 
or money obtain has been provided. During the last five years 
an adjunct of the Adams, called the New Express, has been 
opened, of which Mr. F. W. Sawyer is the local agent. 

Very soon after the Providence and Worcester Railroad was 
opened for traffic, an express route, using its trains, was started 
by Col. Wm. E. Ross, of Providence, and continued for several 
years, when it passed into the hands and control of the Earle 
Express Company. 

In March, 1867, Mr. William H. Earle, a son of George B. 
Earle, the veteran expressman, in company with Henry Prew, 
established the express which is now so widely known by their 
copartnership name. They have lines running to Boston, Wor- 
cester, and Springfield, by rail, and to New York by the Ston- 
ington line steamboats, and are also general express forwarders 
to all parts of the United States. Their office is at Nos. 58 to 
66 Eddy Street ; their local business gives employment to forty 
men and twenty-three teams. 

The International Express Company was formed in 1882, by 
the consolidation of the Metropolis and the New England Dis- 
patch companies. The headquarters are in New York City, and 
the local office in Providence, at &o. 7 Washington Street, was 
opened March 1, 1884, under the management of Mr. O. S. 
Alers, agent. - 

Besides these companies there are numerous local expresses, 
a few running over trains, others running wagons to the various 
parts of the city, and to the different near towns and villages 
where such communication is most convenient. 



Digitized by 



Google 



Chapter V. 

THE RELIGIOUS LIFE OF PROVIDENCE. 

the organization of the first baptist church — historical sketches of the central, the union, and other bap- 
tist churches — the quakers — the first congregational (unitarian) society — the other unitarian churches 

the beneficent, th» central, the union, and other congregational churches — st. john's church, grace, 

st. Stephen's, and other episcopal churches — the methodist churches — the first and second universalist 

churches — the presbyterian churches — churches of the other denominations the free religious society — 

sunday school superintendents' union — the baptist superintendents' union the methodist social union. 



The early relig- 
ious history of this 
colony is of signal 
interest, because it 
was here that the 
state first recog- 
nized the independ- 
ent existence of the 
church. 

The first civil 
code of the colony 
was so framed as to 
leave the church en- 
tirely apart from 
the state organiza- 
tion. Here was the 
cardinal point of 
Roger Williams' 
peculiar tenets. 
First of all, he would 
have every person 
left to the "free 
exercise of con- 
science" in all mat- 
ters of spiritual con- 
cernment, with no 
civil interference. 

"Equal rights" 
for all men in mat- 
ters civil as well as religious, however^ formed the basis of the 
broad, just, and generous plan of the honored founder of our state. 
No religious organization appears to have been attempted until 
about two years after the planting of the colony, though meetings 
were frequently held in private houses and in the open air, often 
conducted by Roger Williams, and sometimes by others. 

Perhaps the varied religious beliefs then rife served as a barrier 
to church organization. Both religious and civil matters were 
in a transition state. Perhaps the need of such organization was 
not deeply felt, owing to the fact that nearly all of the settlers 
were members of Christian churches elsewhere. 

At length in March, 1638, Roger Williams and eleven other 
persons organized a church, the peculiar tenets of which were 
44 liberty of conscience " and separation from state, and the recog- 
nition of immersion alone as scripture baptism. 

It was the first church of this order in America, and the second 
in the world. This church was then called and continues to be 
known to the present day as the 

First Baptist Church of Providence. — This church, unlike most 




THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH. 

Erected in 1774-5, the third edifice belonging to the Society. 
This church wet organized in March, 1638, and is the oldest 
Baptist Church in America, and the second oldest in tha 
world. The first pastor was Roger Williams. 



churches of the Baptist faith, has never adopted any written creed or 
covenant. Whatever variations of belief or divergencies of faith it has 
had to encounter, have been judiciously and successfully adjusted by the 
ruling "moral sentiment" in the church, rather than by appealing to 
any written articles of faith. 

This was the only church in Providence for nearly a century, except the 
Quakers or Friends and two other Baptist churches, one in what is now 
Smithfield, which was organized in 1706, and one in what is now Scituate, 
organized in 1725, and no other Baptist church was organized here for 
about one hundred and seventy years, or until the formation of the Second 
Baptist Church in 1805. 

The first in the long and honored line of pastors, was Roger Williams, 
who served the church in this capacity from the time of its organization, 
though only for a short period; according to Winthrop, three or four 
months. 

At the end of this period, for some reason which does not clearly appear, 
he became dissatisfied with his baptism, and thereupon, with three or four 
others, he withdrew from the church which he had been largely instru- 
mental in forming, and thereafter never united with any other church, 
though he continued to preach and to worship in public with others. The 
following is a list of Williams' successors in the pastoral office : 



James Manning, d. d 1771-1791 

Jonathan Maxcy, d. d 1791, 1793 

Stephen Gano, m. d 1799-1838 

Robert £. Pattisoo, d. d. . . . 1830-36, 1840-43 

William Hague, d. d 1837- 1840 

James N. Granger, d. d 1843-1857 

Samuel L. Caldwell, d. d 1Q58-1873 

Edward G. Taylor, d. d 1875-1881 

T. Edwin Brown, d. d 1883- 



Chad Brown, William Wick. 

enden, George Dexter, Thos. 

Olney, Pardon Tillinghast. . . 1638-1718 

Ebenezer Jenckes 1710-17*6 

James Brown till 1733 

Samuel Windsor *1&- l 1& 

With Thomas Burlingame as 

colleague 1733 

Samuel Winsor, 3d »7S9»77i 

Since 1775, sixty ministers of the Gospel have been connected with this 
church besides its pastors, in addition to fifty more who have been licensed 
by this church to preach the Gospel. The most of these have been con- 
nected with the college, either as officers or as students. 

Owing to an almost total lack of church records prior to 1774, after 
which the records are nearly complete, much of the early history of this 
church must ever remain unknown. Yet there is sufficient data to reveal 
a broad contrast between olden times and the present in many practical 
workings of the church. 

For more than a century, singing and music in worship were con- 
demned, and the preacher received no compensation for his services. The 
opinion generally prevailed " that all those who took anything for preach- 
ing were like Simon Magus." 

The Rev. Pardon Tillinghast, though refusing to accept remuneration 
himself, still advocated the scripture, precept, •* The laborer is worthy of ' 
his hire," which precept began to be practiced upon the induction of 
Manning to the pastoral office. President Manning at first received a 
salary of fifty pounds, which was doubled in 1786, and tripled two years 
later, two-thirds of which were raised by assessment on the private prop- 
erty of members of the church and society, and the balance by pew tax. 
From that time to the present, the pastor has not been without a salary, 
liberal of late, varying, however, from time to time, according to the period 
in which each respectively has served. 

For more than sixty years after its organization, this church had no 
house of worship, meetings being held in private houses or in the open 
air. About the year 1700, Pardon Tillinghast secured a lot and built a 
house at his own expense, both of which '* in consideration of the love 
and good will he bore the church," he gave by deed to the church about 



Digitized by 



Google 



144 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



1711, while serving it as pastor. This house was located on the west side 
of North Main Street, a little north of Smith Street, and tradition says 
that it was " in the shape of a hay-cap, with a fire-place in the middle, the 
smoke escaping from a hole in the roof." 

A larger house was built to take the place of this one, located on the 
lot next adjoining south, which was raised May 30, 1726, as appears from 
a memoranda, copied from an old account book of Richard Brown, who 
for many years was clerk of the proprietors : 

" May the 30th, 1726. The account of what charge I have been at this 
day as to the providing a dinner for the people that raised the Baptist 
meeting-house in Providence, (it being raised this day,) is as followeth : 

One fat sheep, which weighed forty-three lbs., the quarter, . £0,14,04 

For roasting the said sheep, etc., 8 

For one lb. butter, 1 

For two loaves of bread which weighed fifteen lbs., . 2 

For half a peck of peas, 1,03 

December the 6th day. To money which I delivered to Mr. 
Thomas Olney, which I give toward the furnishing said 

house, . 3,13.06 

This house served the church for about fifty years, or till the building 
of the present large and commodious house in 1774-5, located oh its pres- 
ent site on North Main Street, which was erected •* for the public worship 
of Almighty God, and also for holding commencements in." It was built 
at an original cost of about seven thousand pounds. Since then the house 
itself, its fixtures and surroundings have undergone many changes. The 
bell belonging to this church has a varied and unique history. It was 
first cast in London with a weight of 2,515 pounds, bearing the follow- 
ing inscription, viz. : 

" For freedom of conscience the town was first planted, 
Persuasion, not force, was used by the people : 
This Church is the eldest and has not recanted, 
Enjoying* and granting bell, temple, and steeple." 

In the spring of 1787 this bell was broken in ringing and was recast at 
the Hope Furnace. It served for fift:y-6even years, not alone to call 
people to the house of worship, but also to indicate the hour of sunrise, of 
noon, and of nine o'clock at night on each week day. This bell was again 
broken and recast twice during the year 1844. There are now two 
inscriptions on the bell as follows, viz. : 

" This church was founded in 1639 by Roger Williams, its first pastor, and the first 
asserter of liberty of conscience. 
" It was the first church in Rhode Island, and the first Baptist Church in America." 

On the opposite side is inscribed : 

11 This bell was imported from England in 1775. 

Recast at Hope Furnace, R. I., in 1787. 

Again recast in Boston, 1844, 

By Henry N. Hooper & Co." 

With the first bell came also a clock which served as a town clock for 
nearly a century, when, May 2, 1873, it was replaced by the present one 
with illuminated dials, given through the efforts of Mr. H. C. Packard. 

Mr. Nicholas Brown, the most liberal benefactor of the First Baptist 
Church and Society in their early history, died in 1791. Soon after his 
death his family furnished the means for building a parsonage, for pur- 
chasing the chandeliers, and for making various other improvements. 

In 1804 the old spirit of opposition to singing had again appeared on the 
proposition to use a bass viol in worship, but this prejudice with others, 
gave way to the progressive spirit and better enlightenment of the present 
age. An organ was placed in the church in 1834, the generous gift of 
Nicholas Brown, 2d. In 1838 a baptistry was constructed at the cost of 
over six hundred dollars. 

Prior to 1802 the basement of the house had been let as a cellar. After 
this time it was used as a vestry, having undergone various changes and 
repairs, notably in 1856-7, when it was newly excavated, enlarged, and 
much improved. About this time extensive improvements were also made 
in the grounds, fences, and walks surrounding the house. The early 
shade trees, some of which were Lombardy poplars, brought from North 
Italy, were cut down and elm trees were 6et in their places. 

The first important change made in the main audience-room took place 
in 1832, when the square pews gave place to those of a more modern style, 
the sounding-board was removed and the pulpit altered. 

Important changes were again made in 1885, when about nineteen 
thousand dollars were laid out in repairs by the society exclusive of special 
individual gifts. The society placed a new organ in the church, at a cost 
of $6,000. The pulpit platform was completely remodeled, and a new 
baptistry was constructed. To afford adequate room for these changes an 
" apse " was built on the east side of the house. Back of and above the 



pulpit was placed a large stained window, presenting a life-size picture of 
the scene of our Lord's baptism, at a cost of $1,600, the gift of Mrs. 
William Gammell. The new pulpit furniture presented on that occasion 
is the gift of Mrs. Marshall Woods. 

During the summer of 1884 a new parsonage was built on the site of the 
old one on Angell Street, of the old colonial style of architecture, at a cost 
of $15,000. 

This church has experienced several marked revivals, notably during 
the thirty-five years of Dr. Gano's ministry, in which time there were 
eight special revival seasons. Worthy of special notice is that of the year 
i820j when 147 persons were baptized into the church. During this pas- 
torate, which is the longest in the history of the church, the roll of mem- 
bers was increased from 165 to 505, besides more than one hundred 
others who were set apart to help form other churches. The present 
membership of the church is 545, under the pastoral care of the Rev. T. 
Edwin Brown, D. D. 

The deacons are James H. Read, Albert Harkness, John L. Lincoln, 
Elisha Park, William C. Greene, and Almon H. Townsend. 

The Sabbath School superintendent is Thomas J. Morgan. 

The societies connected with the church are the Charitable Baptist 
Society, Female Missionary Mite Society, Female Charitable Society, 
Woman's Baptist Foreign Missionary Society, Young Ladies' Missionary 
Association, and Maternal Association. 

The Central Baptist Church was organized May 1, 1805, with sixteen 
members, as the " Second Baptist Society," which title was changed in 
1831 to " Pine Street Baptist Society," and in 1853 tne present title was 
assumed. From the time of organization till June, 1806, the church wor- 
shiped with the Richmond Street Congregational Society, in the house of 
the latter. During the year 1806, a house of worship was erected on the pres- 
ent site of the Masonic Hall, Pine Street This house was swept away and 
destroyed by the "great storm" of 1815, and in the following year a new 
house was built on the same site, at a cost of about ten thousand dollars. 
A steeple was added later, and in 1837 the house was enlarged. 

The present edifice, located at the junction Broad and High streets, was 
erected in 1857, at a cost of about sixty-five thousand dollars. In 1882 it 
was improved at a cost of about thirteen thousand dollars. The first 
pastor was the Rev. Joseph Cornell. The church now numbers 591, 
under the pastoral care of the Rev. Richard Montague. The deacons are 
James H. Butler, Charles H. Swan, James S. Kenyon, Stephen Greene, 
Frederick W. Hartwell, Thomas E. Carpenter, Benjamin F. Clarke, and 
George H. Coffin. 

The church sustains a prosperous mission at Manton, superintended by 
George H. Coffin. 

The societies connected with the church are Central Baptist Society, 
Ladies' Sewing Circle, Woman's Foreign Mission Circle, Young Men's 
League, Christian Builders. 

The Union Baptist Church. — The present Union Baptist Church was 
formed by the union of the Third Baptist and the Brown Street Baptist 
churches. The Third Baptist Church had its origin in the need felt on 
the part of a few members of the First Baptist Church, residing in that 
part of the city where the Third Church was originally located, for better 
religious facilities in that neighborhood. 

Mr. George Dods was a leading spirit in the movement for a new church, 
which began to be agitated, some time prior to 1819. For several years 
religious services had been held in the old Transit Street school-house. 
In 1819 a lot was secured on Tockwotton Hill, with a view of building a 
house of worship. In the spring of 1820 a Sabbath School was organized 
in Jeremiah Tillinghast's barn on Transit Street, and on the 9th of Novem- 
ber, following, the Third Baptist Church was organized with sixteen mem- 
bers, who had taken letters for this purpose from the First Baptist Church. 

For nearly a year the new church worshiped on the Sabbath with the 
parent body, but held their own weekly prayer and conference meetings. 

In 1821 the church called to the pastorate Mr. Allen Brown, a licentiate 
of the First Baptist Church, who was ordained Jan. 31, 1822, and served 
the church four years. On the 27th of June, 1823, a new meeting-house 
was dedicated, located on Wickenden Street, corner of Hope. 

The church prospered under various pastorates for twenty years, during 
which the membership had increased from sixteen to 200. 

It was blessed with several marked revival seasons, notably one in the 
year 1840, when nearly one hundred persons united with the church, and 
again in 1842, when the church was favored with the labors of the dis- 
tinguished evangelist, Elder Jacob Knapp, resulting in 147 baptisms. 

In July, i860, it sent out a colony of eighteen members, who formed the 
Second Baptist Church of East Providence. The Third Church continued 
to labor with varying success until its union with the Brown Street Church 
in 1878. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



»4* 



From about 1845 there was a growing feeling of need for another church, 
to be located at some point between the First and Third Baptist churches. 
The movement was headed by the Rev. Horace T. Love, a returned mis- 
sionary from Greece, who raised a subscription of $15,000, secured the 
refusal of a suitable lot, and the incorporation by the General Assembly 
of the subscribers to the fund as the •• Power Street Baptist Society." 
By reference to the legislative records we find a long list of prominent 
members of the First and Third Baptist churches on this roll of corpo- 
rators, headed by Francis Wayland. 

But the conditions were not yet ripe for this movement. Means were 
at hand, but membership was wanting. Many were ready to help with 
their money, but none were ready to separate themselves from their acus- 
tomed places of worship. There was perfect unanimity. "All agreed that 
a church ought to be formed, and that some one besides themselves ought 
to form it." The subscribers had pledged their money, not to meet their 
own need, but for the benefit of others, and to help the cause at large. 
But as the personnel for a church proved inadequate at that time, the 
project was dropped, and slumbered for ten years, when it was again 
revived, and the cherished desire which had prompted this initiatory move- 
ment was realized in the formation of the Brown Street Baptist Church, 
Nov. 13, 1855, w > tn IIX members, fifty-nine bringing letters from the First, 
forty-six from the Third Baptist Church, and six scattering. At the same 
meeting the Rev. C. W. Richards was elected pastor. 

The question of locating the church and securing a lot involved much 
anxiety and controversy. Finally a lot was secured at the corner of Brown 
and Benevolent streets, where a substantial brick house was erected, and 
dedicated June 5, i860. When first organized, for some time this church 
was known as the "New Interest." For three and a half years it had 
worshiped in Armory Hall, on Meeting Street, between Benefit' and 
Congdon, and one year in the vestry of the meeting-house. 

The cost of the house and lot exceeded fifty thousand dollars. 

The church grew rapidly and was greatly prospered, especially under 
the pastorates of the Rev. H. C. Graves, 1863-1874, and the Rev. E. H. 
Johnson from 1875 till its reunion with the Third Baptist Church, which 
took effect April 1, 1878. 

The old Brown Street edifice was abandoned, and the now united body 
known as the Union Baptist Church occupied the new edifice which the 
Third Church had erected in 1876, at the corner of John and East streets, 
under the pastoral care of the Rev. E. H. Johnson, who had been serving 
the Brown Street Church. 

For the formation of the Union Church, the Brown Street Church fur- 
nished 225'members, and the Third Church 267, making a total member- 
ship of 492. 





THE UNION CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, 
Broad Street. 



THE BENEFICENT CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, 
Broad Street. 

The present pastor, and successor of the Rev. E. H.Johnson, is the Rev. 
Joseph S. Swaim. The present membership is 420. 

The deacons are Merrick Lyon, Emory Lyon, David W. Hoyt, Andrew 
J. Crossman, Mortimer H. Champlain. 

The Sunday School superintendent is Andrew J. Crossman. 

The Fourth Baptist Church. — The initiatory steps looking to the 
formation of this church, date back to the great revival of 1820, when 147 
persons were added to the First Baptist Church. Then began to be felt 
the need of pushing •ut and building up new enterprises. The first relig- 
ious movement in this part of the city was led by the Rev. Henry Tatem, 
of Cranston, and the Rev. Ray Potter, of Pawtucket. The former baptized 
a number of converts into the fellowship of the First General Baptist 
Church of Cranston, located at Knightsville, of which he was pastor. 

The Fourth Baptist Society was incorporated May, 28, 182 1, and this 
corporation, prior to the formation of a church, built a house of worship 
which was dedicated Aug. 26, 1822. The society, went still further, and 
appointed a committee to invite to the pastorate the Rev. Abner Jones, a 
minister of the Christian denomination, " the Unitarian wing of the 
Baptist family"; which reveals the denominational tendency of the 
majority of the corporation at that time when doctrines and creeds were 
not so firmly settled as they are to-day. The preliminary measures for 
church organization, however, were fast pushing to issue. Those baptized 
into the fellowship of the Cranston church held but a nominal relation to 
that body. Cranston was too far away for the accommodation of these 
branch members, who finally took letters, and July 5, 1823, formed the 
Fourth Baptist Church with thirty-two members. For four years the 
church had no covenant, and, till many years later, no written creed. 
The prevailing sentiment in the church at that time is said to have been 
" decidedly anti-Calvinistic," in favor of*' free communion." 

The first pastor of the church was the Rev. Zalmon Tobey, a Free Will 
Baptist minister who assumed this office in September, 1823, and filled it 
nearly ten years. 

The church edifice was first constructed at a cost of about six thousand 
dollars on the present site, corner of Scott and Bacon streets. An organ was 
placed in the church in 1846. In 1850 the house was enlarged by seven- 
teen feet in length. Later improvements have been made at a cost of about 
twenty-five thousand dollars. The present church furnishings are esti- 
mated at* seven thousand dollars. The longest pastorate of this church is 
that of the Rev. A. H. Granger, d. d., extending over twenty-three years 
from May, 1854, during which the church made large advancement in 
Christian doctrine, in numbers, and in influence. 

It has supported a prosperous mission near Branch Avenue, where a 
church of fifty members was formed in May, 1886; and also a mission on 
Smithfield Avenue, about to be removed to Pawtucket Avenue. The 
present membership is 379. The church is now without a pastor, the Rev. 
James M. Taylor having resigned in May, 1886, to take the presidency of 
Vassar College. The deacons are Philip W. Martin, Luther Salisbury, 



Digitized by 



Google 



146 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



Elijah Bent, George H. Bailey, James L. Crowell, Charles F. Wilcox, and 
David Wilmot. 

The Jefferson Street Baptist Church was organized in 1847. The 
present house of worship is a substantial brick building, located at the 
corner of Jefferson and Common streets, and was erected in 1868 at a co6t 
of about forty thousand dollars, including grounds. The first pastor was 
the Rev. Samuel Richards, and the present pastor is the Rev. W. M. Mick. 
The deacons are Warren G. Noye6 and Charles E. Hall. The Sunday 
School superintendent is H. F. Horton; and the societies connected with 
the church are the Social Workers, Ladies' Missionary Circle, Children's 
Mission Band and Juvenile Templars. The church experienced a special 
revival in 1885. 

The Stewart Street Baptist Church was organized Feb. 3, 185 1, 
with ten members. The church edifice is a substantial, plain brick struct- 
ure built in 1852, and located on Stewart Street, near High. The first 
pastor was the Rev. George R. Darrow, and the present pastor is the Rev. 
W. M. Lisle. It has a membership of 300. The deacons are D. W. B 
Bennett, Silas A. Sweet, Joseph Mason, Joseph Lippett, E.J. Doe, and 
the Sabbath School superintendent is Aaron B. McCrillis. 

The Friendship Street Baptist Church was organized Dec. 28, 
1854, with ninety-seven members who were formerly connected with the 
Fifth Baptist and with the South Baptist churches, both of which dis- 
banded with a view to uniting and forming another church. The present 
edifice, located on Friendship Street, above Beacon, was erected in 1854, 
largely through the efforts of the late Rev. Bradley Minor, who was 
pastor of the South Baptist Church from 1850 to 1854. The first pastor 
was the Rev. Austin H. Stowell. The present pastor is the Rev. Edward 
Mills, and the present membership is 286. The deacons are George Burr, 
Giles Manchester, James B. Buffum, James Loring, James A. Hudson. 
The Sabbath School superintendent is Thomas W. Waterman. The socie- 
ties connected with the church are the Ladies' Sewing Society, the Young 
Men's Union, the Gleaners' Society, and Busy Bees, all missionary and 
social. 

The South Baptist Church was organized Aug. 7, i860, with twenty- 
•four members. A church edifice of moderate dimensions was erected in 
i860 on Potter's Avenue, corner of Plain Street, and a large and well- 
arranged house was commenced in 1884, which it is hoped will be com- 
pleted in 1886. The first pastor was the Rev. E. K. Fuller, and the present 
pastor is the Rev. T. E. Bartlett. The present membership is 172. The 
deacons are Edward H. Grafton, Edward M. Jepson, George E. Carleton ; 
and the Sabbath School superintendent, Simon K. GofF. The benevo- 
jent and social societies are the South Baptist Society of Providence, 
Ladies' Church Aid Society, the Young People's Welcome Society. 

Broadway Baptist Church. — This church owes its existence to the 
efforts and cooperation of the Rhode Island Baptist State Convention, at 
whose instigation a preliminary meeting was convened, Oct. 7, 1864, at 
the residence of Dea. Thomas G. Northup, after which public services 
were commenced in Armory Hall, on Sunday Oct. 16, 1864, conducted by 
the Rev. John Blain, who continued to hold services for six months. At 
the end of that time a church was organized, May 7, 1865, with ten mem- 
bers, called the Broadway Baptist Church. The present edifice, located 
on Broadway, corner Harris Avenue, was built in 1868-9, at a cost of about 
forty thousand dollars. 

In 1883, galleries were placed in the audience-room at a cost of $2,500. 

From the time of its organization this church has been blessed with 
frequent revivals. During the present pastorate, covering the past four 
years, the church has received 263 additions, 167 by baptism. Its Sabbath 
School has the largest average attendance of any school in the state. The 
first pastor was the Rev. H. S. Inman, and the present pastor is the Rev. 
J. V. Osterhout. The present membership is 370. The deacons areB. S. 
Magoon, J. S. Eddy, J. S. Hodgson, Simon Taylor, W. H. Rhodes, and 
the Sabbath School superintendent i6 Charles W. Calder. The societies are, 
Incorporated Society of Broadway Baptist Church, Young Men's Union, 
Young Ladies' Circle, Woman's Missionary Society, Ladies* Benevolent 
Society, Boys' Working Band, Girls* Look-up Legion, and Mission Band. 

Roger Williams Baptist Church was organized Dec. 26, 1876, with 
thirty-nine members. The present church edifice, a substantial stone struct- 
ure, located on Veazie Street, Wanskuck, was built in 1867 at a cost of 
$3,000. The lot was given by Mrs. Jesse Metcalf. The first pastor was 
the Rev. Francis Smith, and the present pastor is the Rev. B. L. Whit- 
man. The present membership is 195. The deacons are, James Stokes, 
John Danford, Samuel Fryer; and the Sunday School superintendent is B. 
L. Whitman. It has an organized temperance society. 

The Cranston Street Baptist Church was organized in 1870 with 
fifty-six members, and the church edifice in its original form was built 
before any church or Sunday School had been organized. It has been en- 
larged three times to meet the growing demands of the church and school, 



and is now a stately and spacious building with sixteen rooms besides the 
auditorium. The church has had a steady growth with more or less addi- 
tions every year. The whole number received to the church is over eight 
hundred, and the present membership is 604. It is a strong and vigorous 
body, united, earnest, and progressive. There have been very few changes 
among the officers, and they have had only one pastor, the Rev. M. H. 
Bixby, who gathered and organized the church. Robert B. Holden, 
Andrew Com stock, Harvey W. Pepper, and Edward A. Sanger were 
chosen deacons in the beginning and are still in office. OUys A. Jillson, 
and Herbert E. Maine have recently been chosen to the same office. 
, The Sunday School membership for twelve years or more, has been 
above six hundred, and now it embraces more than nine hundred. Since 
its organization more than five thousand different persons have been 
connected with the 6chool. Robert B. Holden is superintendent, and has 
been from the beginning. For sixteen successive years he has been 
elected annually by the school and church, without a dissenting voice. 

The Cranston Street Baptist Society was incorporated in 187a Ray- 
mond E. Barrows was the first president and died in office, greatly re- 
spected and lamented. B. F. Arnold was elected the second president, 
and still holds the office. The society is composed of the members of the 
church, all of whom have a right to vote after they are eighteen years of 
age. Andrew Comstock has been the treasurer of the society from the 
beginning. The society has always been harmonious, and its affairs are 
managed with promptness and efficiency. 

The church is thoroughly organized for missionary work, both at home 
and abroad. Several of its members are engaged in missionary work in 
the South and West, and in Burmah, India. 

The Young Ladies' Home Mission Society, Lydia Dyer, president, is a 
very efficient body, composed of young ladies, members of this church. 

The Willing Workers, made up of children, have raised in the course of 
years, more than one thousand dollars for various missionary purposes. 
The Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor, recently organized, 
Clinton R. Stevens, president, is already doing efficient Christian work, 
and has before it a bright future. The field occupied by this church pos- 
sesses almost unlimited possibilities. The Sabbath congregations are 
large, intelligent, and steadily increasing, and the church has a pros- 
perous outlook. 

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. — This church was organized 
March, 1883, w * tn twenty-five members. The house of worship, at first 
erected for the use of the Sabbath School, was removed to its present site 
on Academy Avenue, corner of Roanoke Street, enlarged and improved 
in 1883, at a total cost of $8,000. The first and present pastor is the Rev. 
Wesley L. Smith, and the present membership is fifty-nine. The deacon 
and Sabbath School superintendent is William H. Hobson. The socie- 
ties are Mount Pleasant Helpers, for mission work, Ladies' Aid Society ^ 
Ladies' Foreign Mission Society, Young People's Christian Union. 

The Branch Avenue Baptist Church was organized May 19, 1886, 
with fifty members, and the Rev. Edward P. Teller was ordained and in- 
stalled pastor the same day. This church is located on Branch Avenue, 
and is the outgrowth of a mission Sabbath School organized and sus- 
tained by the Fourth Baptist Church for about six years. The chapel 
building with grounds cost about five thousand dollars. 

Congdon Street Baptist Church was organized Dec. 8, 1840, with 
nine members. It was originally organized as a Free Will Baptist Church 
in April, 1835, and was located on Meeting Street. The present church 
edifice was built in 187 1 at a cost of about fifteen thousand dollars. In 
187 1 the church exchanged their lot on Meeting Street for the one now 
occupied, on Congdon Street, by act of the Supreme Court, and by act 
of the legislature the name of the society was changed from Meeting 
Street to Congdon Street Baptist Church. A vestry was dedicated April 
21, 1874. The first pastor was the Rev. Jeremiah Asher. The present 
pastor is the Rev. Henry Scott. The present membership is 120. The 
deacon 8 are Edward Jackson, Nelson Morgan, Edward Peters, and Nicholas 
Greene. The Sabbath School superintendent is Edward Peters. The 
societies connected with the church are Congdon Street Baptist Society, 
Christian Aid Society, Sewing Circle Society. 

The First Free Baptist Church, Olneyville, was organized Nov. 8, 
1828, with eleven members. The present church edifice, located on Plain- 
field Street, was erected in 1883, at a cost of about thirty thousand dollars. 
The first pastor was the Rev. Martin Cheney, and his successor, the pres- 
ent pastor, is the Rev. Aura L. Gerrish. The present membership is 330. 
The church maintains a prosperous mission on Potter's Avenue, where a 
chapel was erected in 1875, at a cost of about thirty-five hundred dollars. 

The deacons are Thomas Sawyer, J. Davis Hubbard > Samuel N. Bud- 
long, Byron D. Remington; and the Sabbath School superintendent, 
Albert O. Bates. Connected with the church are the Dorcas Society, 
and Young People's Alliance Society for Christain Endeavor. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



'47 



Roger Williams Free Baptist Church. — This 
church was organized March 22, 1830, with thirteen mem- 
bers. The first house of worship was built on Burgess 
Street, in 1833, and was burned in 1855. The present 
brick edifice, located on High Street, corner of Knight, 
was built in 1855. This church has supported several 
successful missions. Its first pastor was the Rev. W. C. 
Manchester, and the present pastor is the Rev. O. E. 
Baker. The present membership is 500, and the deacons 
are S. Kelley, J. D. Hawley, L. S. Harris, L. W. Anthony, 
E. E. Pierce, and F. W. Marden. The Sabbath School 
superintendent is H. R. Clark, and the school numbers 
54a The societies connected with this church are the 
Ladies' Social Circle, Young People's Society, Woman's 
Missionary Society, Young People's Society for Christian 
Endeavor, Busy Gleaners, Normal Bible Class. 

The Park Street Free Baptist Church. — This re- 
ligious body was organized in 1851, with sixteen members. 
The church first worshiped in Canal Market Hall, then 
in Brown Hall, South Main Street, after which it pur- 
chased and occupied a house located on Constitution Hill, 
from which it removed to its present large and convenient 
house on Park Street, corner of Jewett, erected in 1868, at 
a cost of about twenty thousand dollars. . The church was 
blessed with a marked revival in 1885, when fifty persons 
experienced religion. Its first pastor was the Rev. Wil- 
liam Archer, and the present pastor is the Rev. John T. 
Ward. It has a present membership of 166. The deacons 
are Thomas G. Earle, Stephen I. Lincoln, John L. Barker; 
and the Sabbath School superintendent, Irving L. Blanch- 
ard. Its organized societies are the Ladies' Aid Society, 
Woman's Missionary Society, the Temperance Guards, 
and the Little Helpers' Mission Band. 

The Greenwich Street Free Baptist Church was 
organized Aug. 15, 1870, with thirty-five members. The 
church edifice, located on the corner of Greenwich and 
West Friendship streets, was built in i87o-'7i at a cost of 
$16,000. Extensive repairs were made in 1882-3, and again in 1885-6, 
costing in all nearly six thousand dollars. A fine pipe organ was placed 
in the church in 1885, the gift of Mrs. Pheby Swarts. This church has 
been favored with several revival seasons. Its first pastor was the Rev. 
Jason Mariner, and the present pastor is the Rev. E. W. Ricker. The 
present membership is 175. The deacons are Jacob Swarts, O. W. Hop- 
kins, D. A. Winsor; and the Sabbath School superintendent, George W. 
Burroughs. Its societies are Cheerful Helpers, Ladies' Social Circle, and 
Woman's Auxiliary Mission Society. 

The Society of Friends or Quakers. — The Society of Friends or 
Quakers constitute the second religious organization in the state, in the 
order of time, and plays a most important part in the early history of the 
colony. The Quakers first appeared in New England in 1656. All of the 
New England colonies except Rhode Island enacted stringent laws against 
them, and attempted to compel her to do the same. But Rhode Island 
proved true to the principles of religious toleration and freedom on which 
she had been founded, and the Quakers were freely received by her, afford- 
ing a refuge for many who had suffered sore persecution, some by scourg- 
ing, and others even unto death. 

The Quakers were a plain, industrious, and conscientious people. They 
were highly prosperous, and soon gained an honorable place in Rhode 
Island, and won followers from nearly every town in the colony. Richard 
Scott, one of the original settlers in the state, is said to have been the first 
to join them in Providence. 

Meetings were held in Providence and Newport in 1656 or '57. 

The first ** yearly meeting " of the Quakers held in America was " set 
up " in Newport in 1661. It was set off from London as a regular yearly 
meeting for discipline in 1683. 

In 1666 Thomas Burnyeate, of England, held meetings in Providence, 
and in 1672, George Fox, the founder of the sect, attended the yearly 
meeting of Quakers at the house of Gov. William Coddington, on the 
island of Rhode Island. Gov. Nicholas Easton, himself a Quaker, with 
his suite, accompanied Fox on this visit to Providence. While making 
this tour through New England, Fox held a meeting in Providence " in 
a great barn which was thronged with people," which doubtless gave rise 
to the challenge which Fox received from Roger Williams for a public 
debate on the " rights and wrongs of Quakerism." At this time the 
Quakers had so far increased in numbers and in power as to control the 
government of the colony. Their first organization on the main land, 
was the Greenwich Monthly Meeting, which served for a time to accom- 




ST. JOHN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 
North Main Street. 

modate the Quakers of Providence and the territory adjacent thereto. 

A week-day meeting was established in 1701, and in 1703-4 a meeting- 
house was built in what was then a part of Providence, now the town of 
Lincoln. The second and larger part of this edifice was erected in 1745. 
The Quakers were then strong and prosperous in the colony, so that a 
larger room was needed. Meetings are now ordinarily held in the smaller, 
or old part of the house. This is now the oldest meeting-house of any 
denomination in the state. 

In 1718 the Providence Monthly Meeting was setoff from the Green- 
wich Monthly Meeting. This name was changed in 1731 to Smithfield 
Monthly Meeting. * 

In 1 719, the Quakers built a second meeting-house in what was then a 
part of Providence, now Union Village in the town of Woonsocket, which 
served till 1775, when it was replaced by a new house. This house was 
burned May 12, 1881, and the present house was erected the same year, 
on the site of the old one. The present Providence Monthly Meeting 
was set off from the Smithfield Monthly Meeting in 1783. 

Those worshiping in Providence at present number about one hundred 
and fifty. The first Friends meeting-house in what is now Providence, 
was built in 1725 on Stamper's Hill, and was removed to the corner of 
North Main and Meeting streets in 1745. This house was used at times 
for town-meetings and for school purposes. To this an addition was 
erected in 1784-5. This house was removed to Hope Street and converted 
into two dwellings. The present house of worship, at the corner of 
North Main and Meeting streets, was built in 1844-5. 

A fourth meeting-house was built by the Quakers in what was formerly 
part of Providence, now Cranston, about 1730, which is now used by the 
Baptists at Oaklawn. 

While the relative number of Quakers or Friends is comparatively 
small in Rhode Island to-day, it should be borne in mind that principles live 
while institutions decline. We cannot well estimate how much Providence 
is indebted to the Quakers for their past teaching and honorable record, 
or how much they are indirectly effecting to-day by the principles which 
they have promulgated and which are now incorporated into the daily life 
of the world. 

The following are recognized ministers of the Friends in Providence, 
viz.: Phebe R. Gifford, Huldah M. Beede, Sarah K. Reynolds, and 
Robert P. Gifford. The clerk of the Providence Meeting is Thomas J. 
Battey. 

As the city has grown in population and material wealth, its religious 



Digitized by 



Google 



148 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




RT. REV. A. V. GRISWOLD, D. D., 

Cont«crat«d Bishop of tho Eastern (Episcopal) Diocese in 1811. Chancellor of Brown 
University from 1815 to 1 83 I . 

denominations nave also multiplied. But such increase is of compara- 
tively recent date. It is hard to realize now that in the beginning of the 
present century there were but six religious organizations — one Baptist, 
one Friends, one Episcopalian, and three Congregational — in what is 
now a city comprising nearly one hundred churches. And it is worthy 
of notice that the earliest religious order to apply for admission to the 
colony, after the first two had become established, was of the same per- 
suasion that had banished Roger Williams from Massachusetts Bay. 

The different denominations appear, mainly, in the order of the date of 
establishment in the city, as nearly as can be determined, and the various 
churches of each respective denomination in the order of their organiza- 
tion. The Congregational and Episcopalian denominations became 
established here at nearly the same time. 

The First Congregational Church (Unitarian.) — The First Con- 
gregational Society was formed in 1721, but the church was not organ- 
ized until 1728, when Josiah Cotton was installed as pastor, nine members 
constituting the church. He was the first Congregational minister or- 
dained in the colony of Rhode Island, and this was the third religious 
society establishing worship in Providence, although Congregational wor- 
ship had been maintained since 1720. 

This society erected its first house of worship in 1723. It was the build- 
ing afterwards known as the ** Old Town House," and stood where the 
present County Court House stands, on the corner of College and Benefit 
streets. This house was used for public worship until 1795, when it was 
sold to the town, and the society dedicated a new and spacious house on 
the corner of Benefit and Benevolent streets, the site occupied by the 
present church edifice. This house was occupied by the society for nine- 
teen years, when it was destroyed by fire June 14, 1814. The society pro- 
ceeded at once to rebuild, and erected the present beautiful stone edifice 
which was dedicated Oct. 31, 1816. The house faces to the west, and is 
77 x 80 feet in dimensions. The spire is 189 feet, 11 inches high from the 
ground. The house is beautifully finished inside, with galleries and a 
lofty interior dome. The seating capacity is 1,000; the original cost was 
over fifty thousand dollars. In 1863 it was thoroughly repaired and newly 
furnished, at a cost of over twenty-two thousand dollars. A chapel was 
built by the society in the rear of the church in 1840, at a cost of $2,500, 
which was replaced in 1877 by the present granite chapel, costing $16,000, 
which was designed to conform to the architecture of the church itself. 

The first pastor of the church, the Rev. Josiah Cotton, served from the 
the time of his installation in 1728, until 1747. It was during his pastor- 



ate in 1743, that the first secession from the church occurred, due in part, 
perhaps, to the influence of Whitefield's preaching. Several members of 
the society in the First Congregational Church separated from it, claim- 
ing to see in their minister •* an opposer of the work of God's Spirit, a 
preacher of damnable good works or doctrines, a hypocrite," etc. At his 
own request, Mr. Cotton was dismissed in 1747, and five years later the 
Rev. John Bass became pastor of the parent church and served until 1758. 
The next pastor was the Rev. David D. Rowland, who served from 1762 
till 1774. The pulpit was supplied during the year 1775 by the late Rev. 
Dr. Lothrop, of Boston. 

In 1780 the Rev. Enos Hitchcock was called to this pulpit, was installed 
in 1783, and remained pastor until his death in 1803. His ministry was 
faithful and successful, and he left to the church a legacy of $6,000. 
He was succeeded by the Rev. Henry Ecles in 1805, during whose pas- 
torate of twenty-seven years, the church adopted a new covenant, and 
became avowedly unitarian in theology. In 1828, one hundred years 
from the formation of the church, certain members separated in a friendly 
way and formed the Westminster Congregational Society. On Nov. 14, 
1832, the Rev. Edward B. Hall was installed pastor of the First Congre- 
gational Society. His pastorate of nearly thirty-five years, ending with 
his death, March 3, 1866, was signally faithful and prosperous. His dec- 
laration in his letter of acceptance that he would " devote his life and 
strength to the interests of the church he served," was abundantly fulfilled. 
His ability, character, and fidelity left their impress upon the whole com- 
munity. 

Dr. Hall was succeeded by the Rev. A. M. Knapp, who served the 
society from 1868 to 187 1. The Rev. C. A. Staples was pastor from 1872 
to 1881. The present incumbent, the Rev. Thomas R. Slicer, was called 
to the pastorate m June, 1881. In 1882 the church still further simplified 
its covenant, which now reads: "In the love of the Truth, and in the 
Spirit of Jesus Christ, we join for the worship of God and the service of 
man." The pre.sent congregation numbers about two hundred families. 
The Sunday School has about one hundred and fifty members. 

The Westminster Congregational Church (Unitarian) was or- 
ganized in 1828, with eighteen members, and has a church edifice located 
on Mathewson Street, which was erected in 1829. This house of worship 
is an exceedingly beautiful and striking structure. The first pastor was 
the Rev. Frederick A. Farley, d. d., and the present minister is the Rev. 
Augustus Woodbury, who has been its pastor for many years. The 
deacons are James Tillinghast, Frederick N. Seabury, and the Sunday 
School superintendent, J. Thomas Smith. The societies connected with 
it are the Relief Circle, and Westminster Unity Club. The missions are 
the Children's Mission, and the Ministry at Large. 

The Olney Street Congregational Church (Unitarian) was or- 
ganized in 1878, and is the outgrowth of a mission sustained several years 
by the First and the Westminster Congregational societies. The house of 
worship, located on Olney Street, was erected in 1870, at a cost of $40,000. 
The pastor is the Rev. Alfred Manchester, and the Sabbath School super- 
intendent, Samuel Herbert Tingley. The societies are Good Will, Mite, 
Little Helpers, and Church of the Disciples. 

The Beneficent Congregational Church. — The first Congrega- 
tional Church on the west side of the river was formed March 7, 1743, 
under the leadership of Joseph Snow, who afterwards became their pastor 
and teacher. After a successful and useful pastorate of fifty years, he with- 
drew with a minority of the membership, and formed another church. 

The greater number remained with the Rev. James Wilson, who had 
been settled as assistant pastor, and who continued to minister to this 
church for a period of forty-five years. He was a remarkable man, of fine 
presence, agreeable personal qualities, and natural eloquence. In the 
early years of his pastorate, he taught school, and was for a long time the 
principal teacher on the west side. Many hundred of children and youth 
received the larger part of their school education from him. 

The first house of worship was built in 1748, on land given by Daniel 
Abbott, who also gave the open lot or park adjoining the church, which 
bears his name. Many celebrated men preached in this ancient building 
among whom were George Whitefield, Robert Sandeman, and Bishop 
Asbury. In this old building, also, was held the first college commence- 
ment, and the following ones for several years. 

The present church was erected on the same site, and dedicated on 
Jan. 1, 1810. The beautiful chapel which fronts on Chestnut Street, was 
the gift of Henry J. Steere, Esq., as a memorial of his father, the late 
Jonah Steere, for many years a member of this church. 

There have been but seven pastors in a period of more than one hun- 
dred and forty years. In the old vestry of this church was held the first 
Sabbath School regularly organized on the west side, and more than 
twelve thousand children and older persons have shared in its blessings. 
While there have been eleven churches of this fellowship in the city, of 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



149 



which nine only exist at the present time, it may be said that this church 
has been the mother of them all. Nearly all have sprung directly from 
her care, and most of them have received largely of her bounty. Ten 
ministers of the Gospel have gone forth from her membership, several of 
whom have been missionaries at the West. One young lady has gone 
forth as a missionary physician to the women of India. The member- 
ship of this church is still larger than ever before, and its hopes of use- 
fulness yet bright and clear for the future. 

Union Congregational Church.— The Union Congregational Church 
was organized March 31, 1871, with 581 members, by the union of the 
Richmond Street and the High Street Congregational churches, the for- 
mer contributing 287, and the latter 294 members. 

The Richmond Street Church had a varied and unique history, and 
was the outgrowth of a division in the Beneficent Church in 1793. It 
built a house of worship on Richmond Street, and in 1808 assumed the 
name of the Pacific Congregational Church. In 182 1 a division arose in 
this church, when sixteen members separated themselves and formed what 
was known as the Calvanist Congregational Church. After four years' 
separation these churches were reunited and jointly known as the Union 
Congregational Church ; but on taking possession of its new house of 
worship on Richmond Street, May 8, 1827, the name was changed to the 
Richmond Street Congregational Church. This house was destroyed 
by fire Oct. 13, 1851, and a new one (now occupied by the Free Congre- 
gational Church) erected in its place in 1852-3. 

The ministry of the Rev. Thomas T. Waterman, covering a period of 
ten years, and of the Rev. Jonathan Leavitt, from 1840 to 1862, are specially 
deserving of mention. During the pastorate of each, more than four 
hundred were added to the membership of the church. The last pastor of 
the Richmond Street Church was the Rev. E. H. Richmond, from 1863 
to '67, and during his ministry seventy-two members were received. 
After this the church was supplied by different preachers until its union 
with the High Street Church. 

The High Street Congregational Church was organized in 1834, 
with forty-one members, mostly from the Richmond Street and Beneficent 
churches. The ministry of the Rev. Stephen R. Dennen, from 1865 to '68, 
was blessed with more than one hundred conversions. This church dis- 
missed eighty -eight members to help form the Pilgrim Congregational 
Church. The proposal to unite the Richmond Street and High Street 
churches was due partly to the inconvenient location of the Richmond 
Street Church for the accommodation of most of its members, and partly 
to a growing demand on the part of the High Street Church for a larger 
and more convenient house. This plan for union also contemplated the 
formation of the present Pilgrim Church on Harrison Street, and the 
transfer of the Richmond Street Church edifice to the Free Evangelical 
Church. The union was consummated in August, 1868. 

The corner-stone of the house of worship on Broad Street, corner of 
Stewart, erected by the two societies at a cost of $200,000, was laid April 19, 
1870, and the house was dedicated June 27, 1872. The first pastor of the 
church was the Rev. Kinsley Twining, and the present incumbent, the 
Rev. J. Hall Mcllvaine. The present membership is 714. The deacons 
are A. C. Barstow, T. Salisbury, S. Tabor, Z. Williams, J. McAusIan, 
and C. A. Pabodie; and the Sabbath School superintendent, W. W. 
Rickard. The societies are the Union Congregational Society — business ; 
Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor, Ladies' Home Mission 
Society, Ladies' Foreign Mission Society. 

The Central Congregational Church was organized March 18, 
1852, and occupies a fine brick structure, located on Benefit Street, near 
College Street, built in 1852. The first pastor was the Rev. Leonard Swain, 
and the present pastor is the Rev. Charles W. Huntington. It has a 
membership of 466. The deacons are Thomas B. Stockwell, M. E. Toney, 
Edwin Burrows, John W. Danielson, Frederick H. Fuller, and H. W. 
Wilkinson; the Sabbath School superintendent is E. B. Floyd. The 
societies are Woman's Home Missions, Central Church Auxiliary, Rhode 
Island Branch Woman's Board of Missions, Junior Auxiliary Rhode Island 
Branch Woman's Board of Missions, Young People's Alliance, O. B. 
Mission Club. 

The Free Evangelical Congregational Church was organized May 
4, 1843. This church occupies the house built by the Richmond Street Con- 
gregational Church on Richmond Street in 1852, and valued at $50,000, 
in which the sittings have always been free, and it is mainly supported 
by free contributions, on the weekly and monthly offering plan. The 
church has been blessed with several revival seasons. The edifice has 
undergone important interior repairs since occupied by the Free 
Church Society, and an ice water fountain for public use placed in the 
church yard. The first pastor was the Rev. Thomas T. Waterman. The 
present pastor is the Rev. John H. Larry. The membership is 330. The 

20 




RT. REV. THOMAS M. CLARK, D. 0., 
Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Rhode Island. 

deacons are Joshua H. Work, J. C. Thompson, Nathan J. Shepley, John 
Childs, Edwin F. Allen, and Simon F. Smith; the Sabbath School super- 
intendent, John McCausland. The auxiliary societies are the Woman's 
Board of Missions and Young People's Social Union. 

The North Congregational Church. — The Charles Street Congre- 
gational Sunday School was organized Sept. 7, 1856, in a chapel (then in 
North Providence) near Corliss Engine Works, and was fostered by the 
Central Congregational Church of Providence. June 6, 1865, the Charles 
Street Congregational Church was organized. Jan. 29, 1880, the name 
of the church was changed to North Congregational Church. The first 
acting pastor was the Rev. George Huntington. The church edifice, loca- 
ted on Walling Street, at the head of Pettis, was dedicated in 1883, an0 * 
the Rev. Adelbert F. Keith, the only pastor, began his labors with this 
church in 1877, and was installed July 9, 1883. The deacons are Thomas 
P. Smith, Levi Holt, William Corp, and Edward Birge; and the Sabbath 
School superintendent, Charles H. Philbrick. The societies are North 
Congregational Society, Home Circle, and White Ribbon Army. 

The Pilgrim Congregational Church was organized June 2, 1869, and 
is the outgrowth of a mission Sabbath School organized Dec. 24, 1865, 
with twenty members, under the direction of Mr. Andrew J. Rogers, a 
student of Brown University. The present church edifice, a fine brick 
structure located on Harrison Street, near High, was erected in 1874. Its 
first pastor was the Rev. Thomas Laurie, d. d., who served from the time of 
his installation, Nov. 24, 1869, until 1885; since then the church has been 
without a pastor. The present membership is 335. The deacons are 
Edwin Knight, John L. Smith, George Jepherson, Samuel A. Winsor; 
and the Sabbath School superintendent, James E. Alden. It maintains a 
social circle. 

The Plymouth Congregational Church was organized March 6, 
1878, with thirty members. Its house of worship is located on Richardson 
Street, near Broad, and was built in i88o-'8i. The first pastor was the Rev. 
Henry B. Roberts, and the present pastor of the church is the Rev. Henry 
A. Blake, who resides at No. 63 Ocean Street. The present member- 
ship is 188. The Sunday School superintendent is Charles A. Campbell. 
The societies are Plymouth Congregational Society, consisting of all the 



Digitized by 



Google 



I jo 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



male members of the church ; Plymouth Home Missionary Society, con- 
sisting of young ladies ; Ladies' Aid Society, Ladies' Foreign Missionary 
Society, and Young Folk's Union. 

Academy Avenue Congregational Church was organized June 23, 
1886, with seventy-three members, and is the outgrowth of a Sabbath 
School organized in September, 1884. Its house of worship is located on 
Academy Avenue, above Atwell's Avenue, and was built in 1886, at a cost 
of $8,500. The first and present pastor is the Rev. Albert L. Kelly. The 
deacons are John Anderson, D. H. Randall, and Edward Auty ; and the 
Sabbath School superintendent, the Rev. Albert L. Kelly. It is in charge 
of a board of trustees, who are Daniel W. Fraser, D. S. B. Allardice, 
John Anderson, Jr., David SI ingsly, Frederick Howarth, and Alexander 
Gray Hoard ley. 

St. John's Church (Episcopal). — In the year 1721 Gabriel Bernon, a 
Huguenot refugee from La Rochelle in France, for some years previous 
resident in Providence, entered into correspondence with the Rev. Mr. 
McSparran, a missionary of the Church of England in Rhode Island, with 
a view to settling " in our town of Providence one learned minister of 
good condition — an Old England gentleman minister." Providence was 
then a town of 10,000 inhabitants. The following year the frame of the 
first Episcopal church in this city was begun on St. Barnabas' Day, June 
11, 1722, and its attendants were organized as King's Church. It became 
*' St. John's Church in Providence," by act of incorporation in 1794. 
Its original place of worship was a wooden building with low belfry and 
round headed windows; it was taken down in 1810, and the present stone 
structure, in the Gothic of the period, erected. The church was enlarged 
by the addition of transepts and recessed chancel in 1868, and the interior 
remodeled and decorated in 1871. The adjoining chapel was built in 
1853, anc * tne rectory in 1867. 

The first ministers of King*6 Church were missionaries of the Society 
for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. Volumes, the gift 
of that society, are still in the library of the rector. The Rev. George 
Pigot was in charge from 1723 to 1725. Messrs. O'Hara, Brown, and 
Checkley followed. The Rev. John Graves was rector from 1755 to the 
outbreak of the Revolution. During the period of the war the church was 
kept open by occasional services. From 1783 to 1786, Thomas F. Oliver, 
fir6tas lay reader, then as rector, was in charge. The Rev. Moses Badger 
followed, from 1786 to 1791, and the Rev. Abraham Clarke, from 1792 to 
1800. Two years later the long ministry of the Rev. Nathan B. Crocker, 
as lay reader, deacon, and finally as rector, began. With the exception 
of a period of ill health, from 1805 to 1807, when the Rev. John L. Black- 
burn served in his stead, Dr. Crocker continued in charge of St. John's 
Church until his death in 1865. His assistant, the Rev. Richard B. 
Duane, succeeded him, resigning his rectorship in 1869. He was followed, 
in December of that year, by the present incumbent, the Rev. C. A. L. 
Richards. 

The wardens of St. John's Church are Messrs. Oren Westcott and John 
W. Vernon ; Mr. Charles T. Dorrance is the parish treasurer ; and Miss 
S. A. Potter, the parish missionary. There is a communion list of about 
four hundred names. The benefactions of the parish have been large for 
many years. Its direct work among the poor is increasing. This parish 
has been averse to changes, and slow to adopt new methods. Con- 
tinuing, mainly, in well-worn paths, it has sought to be a steady influence 
for a broad and tolerant churchmanship in this community. 

Grace Church (Episcopal) was organized in 1829. The present 
church edifice on Westminster Street, was erected in 1845. The church 
sustains three missions as follows: Trinity Chapel, Pawtuxet; St. 
Bartholomew's Church, Cranston, and St. Mary's Church, East Provi- 
dence. The first rector was the Rev. Samuel Fuller, d. d., and the present 
rector is the Rev. Daniel Greer, d. d., with Rev. H. U. Bartlett and the 
Rev. George R. Spink, assistant ministers. It has a present membership 
of 880. The wardens are John B. Anthony and Charles Morris Smith, and 
the Sabbath School superintendent is George A. Buffum. The societies 
connected with this church are Employment Bureau, Missionary Society, 
St Margaret's Society, St. Elizabeth's Society, St. Agnes' Society, and 
Grace Memorial Society. 

Church of the Saviour (Episcopal) was organized in 1838. Its 
house of worship is located on the corner of Benefit and Transit streets, 
and was erected in 1840. The Rev. Francis Vinton was the first rector, and 
was succeeded by the Rev. H. Monro. The present membership is 115. 
The wardens are James M. Cross and Waterman Stone, and the Sunday 
School superintendent is Henry A. Keath. The societies are Dorcas 
Sewing Society and Workers for Benevolent Purposes. 

St. Stephen's Church (Episcopal.) — This church was admitted 
into conference June 11, 1839, an< * incorporated in October of the same 
year, with'seventeen communicants. The first rector was the Rev. Fran- 



cis Vinton, d. D. A house of worship was built at the corner of Benefit 
and Transit streets in 1840, which was consecrated on the twenty-sixth 
day of November in that year, by the Right Rev. Dr. Griswold. 

About 1850, steps began to be taken looking to the erection of a new 
church edifice, which, in time, resulted in the building of the present 
imposing stone structure, one of the most beautiful in New England, on 
George Street, near Thayer, at a cost of about seventy thousand dol- 
lars, including the lot. The corner-stone of this house was laid Sept. 21, 
i860, by Bishop Clark. The house was consecrated Feb. 27, 1862, and 
is built according to ancient Catholic usage, east and west, with the altar 
in the east. The architecture is of the middle pointed Gothic style, and 
the plan included a nave, choir, north and south aisles, lady chapel, 
tower, and §pire. The spire has never been completed. The material is 
stone from Smithfield, with trimmings, mouldings, and pillars of brown- 
stone from New Jersey and Connecticut. It is about 120 feet long, 86 wide, 
and 68 feet from the floor to the highest point of the roof. It has a high, 
open roof, with a clear story, the timbers which support the roof being of 
stained pine. Six massive pillars of solid 6tone separate the nave from 
the side aisles. The lady chapel, which is under the same roof, is sep- 
arated from the church by an open screen of black walnut. There are 
many memorial windows in the church, among them two to Bishops 
Griswold and Henshaw. 

In 1883 tne church was rearranged with new ornaments, and furniture 
of carved oak, comprising altar, reredos, rood screen, choir stalls, and 
pulpit, which were solemnly consecrated to the glory of God, and in 
memory of Henry Waterman, d. d., James Henry Eames, d. d., and 
Freeborn Cogshall, m. a., by the bishop of the diocese on St. Stephen's 
Day, Dec. 26, 1883. In design and execution these memorials rank high 
as works of ecclesiastical art. 

The following are the officers of the parish : rector, the Rev. George 
McClellan Fiske, m» a., 43 George Street; vestrymen. Resolved Water- 
man, John S. Ormsbee, Robert H. I. Goddard, Lyman Klapp, William 
Ames, Edward B. Carpenter, Moses P. Forkey, Freeborn Coggeshall, 
Charles E. Godfrey, John H. Ormsbee, George B. Burton, William Con- 
rad Rhodes, and William Wurts White; senior warden, Resolved Water- 
man ; junior warden, William Ames ; deputy senior warden, Robert H. I. 
Goddard; clerk, Lyman Klapp; treasurer, Charles E. Godfrey; musical 
director, William Conrad Rhodes; organist, William H.Arnold; choir 
master .William M. Skinner ; Sabbath School superintendent, Theodore P. 
Bogert; Sabbath School librarians, John C. McNamara, GeorgeW. McNa- 
mara; sexton, Richard Conway. Teachers seventeen, scholars 175. Pre- 
sent number of communicants belonging to the parish, 330. The organi- 
zations connected with the parish are : Parish Work Association, for chari- 
table and missionary work; St Faith's Guild, for general works of mercy 
and the maintenance of an industrial school ; St. Augustine's Guild, of 
men, for church work and devotion ; St Vincent's Guild for Boys, devo- 
tional ; Altar Society, for the care of church vestments, the altars of the 
church, etc. 

In April, 1885, a guild house was begun on the eastern end of the 
church property. It was formally opened with an office of benediction 
on July 2, 1885. The parish societies meet there for their work. The 
guild house is open every evening to give the parishioners — men and 
boys especially — the benefit of the reading-room and library maintained 
there by the Guild of St Augustine. In 1885 a house on George Street 
was purchased by the parish for a rectory. 

All Saints' Memorial Church (Episcopal.) — All Saints' Memorial 
Church had its origin in the union of St Andrew's Church and St 
Peter's Free Chapel Mission. St. Andrew's Church was organized in 
1846, and for many years struggled for existence. It was served by four 
rectors and other ministers during the first seven years of its history. 
The Rev. Daniel Henshaw assumed charge of the church in. 1853, and did 
much to promote its future prosperity. In 1858 he organized the first boy 
choir in this city, and the third in this country. Jan. 1, i860, a Sabbath 
School was formed, and an evening service established on High Street, 
near Knight, which enterprise was named St. Peter's Free Chapel Mission. 
It was carefully fostered until 1863, when steps were taken towards the 
erection of a house of worship, so located as to accommodate both church 
and mission. The lot and the building, which is a brown-stone structure 
located on the corner of High and Stewart streets, was procured at a cost 
of $15,500. The corner-stone was laid by Bishop Clark, June 29, 1869; 
the first service held in it Easter-Day, 1872 ; and the house was conse- 
crated on All Saints' Day, 1875. 

Mr. Henshaw became rector when the church was organized, and still 
holds the position. The labors of Rector Henshaw have been uniformly 
prosperous during the thirty-three consecutive years that he has served 
the two churches named. This church has several mission and other soci- 
eties for organized Gospel effort. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



»5* 



A peculiar interest attaches to this church by reason of its .many and 
costly memorial gifts, such as the polished column with carved capital, in 
the chancel, and the beautiful mural tablet at the west end of the church, 
presented by one person; the chancel window; the large. front window; 
the pulpit ; the organ, and the Italian white marble ; the silver service for 
the Holy Communion. The number of communicants is 390. 

The Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal) was organized April 5, 
1859. The present church edifice, located on North Main Street, near 
Lippitt, was built in 1859, at a cost °f about twelve thousand dollars. The 
first rector was the Rev. Charles H. Wheeler, and the present rector is the 
Rev. Frederic J. Bassett. The present number of communicants is 150. 
The Sabbath School superintendent is George D. Briggs. This was the 
first Free Episcopal Church in Providence, and by the terms under which 
its property is held, it is to be maintained only as a free church. 

Christ Church (Episcopal) was organized in 1865. The present 
church edifice, located on the corner of Eddy and Oxford streets, was built 
in 1867. The church is the outgrowth of a mission, which for the autumn 
of 1866 was in charge of the Bishop Seabury Association of Brown Uni- 
versity until Easter, 1867, when the Rev. S. H.Webb became rector, and 
still continues to hold the position. They hope soon to build a new church 
edifice. The present membership is 190, and the societies are the Ladies' 
Aid Society, Young Ladies' Auxiliary Society, and Young Men's Guild. 

St. James' Church (Episcopal) was organized March 6, 1867. The 
present church edifice, located on Gesler Street, corner Tell, was erected in 
1868. The parish was admitted to the diocesan convention in 1869. The 
first rector was the Rev. William D. N. Sherman, and his successor the 
present rector, the Rev. W. F. B. Jackson. The number of communicants 
is 125. The Sunday School superintendent is Christopher Blanding. 
The societies are Parish Guild, Sewing Society, Sewing School, and 
Young Women's Club. The parish is in a prosperous condition, and is 
governed by the rector, two wardens, and six vestrymen. The parish 
clerk is William M. P. Bowen. 

The Church of the Epiphany (Episcopal) was organized in 1873, 
with fifteen members. The present church edifice, located on Potter's 
Avenue, was erected in 1880, at a cost of $10,000. This church sustains a 
mission at Auburn, organized in 1885. The first rector was the Rev. 
Charles L. Newbold, and the present rector is the Rev. Henry Bassett. 
The present membership is 120. The wardens are Edward D. Bassett 
and William Hulton, and the Sabbath School superintendent is Edward 
D. Bassett. The school numbers 340. The church societies are Ladies' 
Parish Aid Society, Parish Guild and Literary Society. 

St. Paul's Church (Episcopal) is located on Carroll Street. The first 
rector was the Rev. Mr. Perry, and the church is now in charge of the 
Rev. I. T. Bagnall. The present membership is 125. 

The Chestnut Street Methodist Espiscopal Church. — The year 
1815 marks the beginning of Methodism in Providence, although some 
pioneer work was done by Methodist ministers here as early as 1790, and 
a class was formed in 1798. The Chestnut Street Church was organized 
in 1815, through the efforts of the Rev. V. R. Osborn, who became its first 

pastor. By his efforts a house 
of worship was erected at the 
corner of Aborn and Washing- 
ton streets, and dedicated Jan. 
1, 1816. It is believed that the 
first Sabbath School in Prov- 
idence was organized by the 
Rev. Mr. Osborn in connection 
with this church in 1815. In 
1820 it became necessary to 
have a larger house to accom- 
modate the growing congrega- 
tion, and a lot was secured at 
the corner of Clifford and 
Chestnut streets, on which the 
present house of worship was 
built, and dedicated Jan. 1, 1822. 
In 1836 the house was remod- 
eled, a spire built, and a bell 
supplied, and instrumental mu- 
sic introduced. In 1852 the 
house was raised and still fur- 
ther remodeled, and the organ 
now in use put in its place. The 
spire was blown down in the 
gale of September, 1869, but 
THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, was soon replaced by the present 
Btntfit Strut. one. 





GRACE (EPISCOPAL) CHURCH, 
Westminster Street. 



This is one of the 
strongest churches of 
its denomination in 
New England, and 
has been served by 
some of its ablest min- 
isters. 

The following 
churches have been 
formed wholly or in 
part from its member- 
ship : Hope Street, 
Mathewson Street, 
Broadway, T r i n i ty, 
and St. Paul's 
churches. The pres- 
ent membership is 
about four hundred, 
and the pastor is the 
Rev. H. C. Westwood. 

Hope Street 
Methodist Episco- 
pal Church was or- 
ganized Jan. 1, 1834, 
with thirty-seven 
members. For several 
years Sunday services 
were held in a house 
on the corner of Power 
and South Main 
streets. The present 
edifice, located on the 
corner of Hope and 

Power streets, was erected in 1874, at a cost of about thirty-eight thousand 
dollars, including the lot. The vestry wa6 furnished in 1883, ana< a P*P e 
organ was placed in the church in January, 1886. This church has been 
blessed with a number of marked revivals, one of which resulted in the 
addition of more than one hundred to the church. The first pastor was 
the Rev. Jotham Horton, and the present pastor is the Rev. Thomas J. 
Everett. The present membership is 188. The deacons are John R. 
Harris, William Mansfield, Herbert W. Cobb, N. H. West, W. S. Ed- 
wards, A. M. Baker, M. A. Durfee, and A. M. Browne; and the Sabbath 
School superintendent is William Mansfield. The societies are Ladies' 
Aid Society, Willing Workers, and Chautauqua Literary and Social Circle. 

Mathewson Street Methodist Episcopal Church was organized 
Oct. 19, 1848, with twenty-eight members, twenty-one coming from 
Power Street Church, six from Chestnut Street, and one from the East 
Greenwich Methodist Episcopal Church. Worship was maintained for a 
time in Hoppin Hall, No. 33 Westminster Street. The present church 
edifice, located on Mathewson Street, was erected i85o-*5i, and exten- 
sively repaired during the pastorate of the Rev. E. F. Clark. The church 
has been blessed with a large number of extensive revivals, notably under 
the pastorates of the Revs. David Potter, Jr., and Frederick Upham. This 
church took a prominent part in the organization of the Trinity and the 
Asbury Methodist Episcopal churches. It also became distinguished for 
zeal, liberality, and self-sacrifice in promoting the Federal cause in the war 
for the Union. During the years 1864 and 1865 the members contributed 
for the Union cause more than three thousand dollars. The first pastor 
was the Rev. David Potter, and the present pastor is the Rev. N. T. 
Whitaker. The present membership is 383. The Sunday School superin- 
tendent is Joseph A. Latham, and the present officers of the church are 
John Kendrick, Josiah L. Webster, Pardon M. Stone, Charles F. Hull, Jere- 
miah Knight, Marius S. Daniels, Isaac Sperry, Joshua M. Addeman, Morris 
Deming, William H. Washburn, Albert J. Manchester, Thomas Wil- 
liams, Samuel Boyd, Thomas J. Gardiner. Joshua L. Latham, George W. 
Lamphear, Edward Shaw, 2d, William R. Sherman, Eli H. Howard, 
George D. Lansing, Andrew Hutchinson, Frank H. Maynard, Franklin 
A. Smith, Jr., Albert F. Davis, Olin Hill, George B. Darling, and Fletcher 
S. Mason. 

Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church was organized April 28, 
1851. The present edifice, located on Broadway, was purchased from the 
Wesleyans, in 1855, and in 1859 lt wa8 removed to its present site and 
enlarged, at a cost of $2,000. The present membership is 300, and the 
present pastor is the Rev. C. B. Pitblado. The Sabbath School superin- 
tendent is Albert W. Rounds. The societies are Ladies' Aid Society 
and Literary Society. 

St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1854. 



Digitized by 



Google 



IJ2 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




■■^WE'iTeioJ 



THE CHESTNUT STREET METHODIST EPISCOPAL 
CHURCH. 



The present house 
of worship, located 
corner Plain # and 
Swan streets, was 
erected in 1870, and 
was enlarged and 
repaired in 1885, at 
a cost of $6,000. 

The first pastor 
was the Rev. J. T. 
Bento n. The 
church was sup- 
plied a number of 
years by local 
preachers, and the 
present pastor is the 
Rev. C. H. Ewer. 
The present mem- 
bership is 265. The 
Sabbath School 
numbers about five 
hundred, and is sup- 
erintended by Eu- 
gene Lawton. Con- 
nected with the 
church is a Ladies' 
Aid Society. 

The Trinity 
Methodist Epis- 
copal Church was 
organized in April, 
1859, with thirty- 
five members. A Sunday School had been formed in January of the same 
year. The initial steps towards the erection of a church edifice had been 
taken in January, 1858, when services were conducted for a time in Lester 
Hall, Cranston Street, by the Rev. Andrew McKeown. In 1865 measures 
were taken for building a new house of worship, which was successfully 
accomplished. But owing to various causes, among them the rapid 
rise in cost of building materials, the expense of building far surpassed the 
estimates that had been made, and thereby the society became deeply 
involved in debt. But the Methodist churches of this city came to the 
rescue, and helped to raise the debt. The cost of the house was about forty 
thousand dollars. In its spiritual work this church has been uniformly 
successful from the time of its formation. The first pastor was the Rev. 
William McDonald, and the present pastor is the Rev. Charles L. Goodell. 
The church has 493 members, and the Sunday School, under the super- 
intendence of George W. Smith, numbers 850. The trustees are E. F. 
Curtis, John C. Hobbs, Samuel G. Allen, George Hunt, George W. Bates, 
Charles E. Hill, and Lloyd C. Eddy; the stewards are George W. Smith, 
George H. Chenery, Charles H. James, William Jamieson, John W. 
Cornell, William H. Chenery, Addison Edwards, Walter H. Barney, 
Albion S. Doane, Edwin Tetlow, Charles H. Burt, Samuel G. Pellett, 
and Walter B. Jacobs. The societies connected with Trinity Church 
are as follows: the Cheerful Workers, Ladies' Social Circle, and the 
Oxford League. 

The Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church was organized April 5, 
1868, with twenty members. The first service was held in interest of 
this church on March 22, 1868. The present church edifice located corner 
North Main and Hewes streets, was erected in 1868. Plans have been ac- 
cepted for a new house to be built of brick with granite trimmings during 
the present year, on the site of the old house, at a cost of $25,000. Its 
first pastor was the Rev. John Livesey, and the present pastor is the Rev. 
William J. Smith. The present membership is 401. The Sabbath School 
superintendent is Allen P. Young. The society is the Ladies' Church Aid 
Society. 

The Cranston Street Methodist Episcopal Church was organ- 
ized March 9, 1882, with fifteen members. This church is indirectly the 
outgrowth of two Sabbath Schools which had been formed at different 
times on Christian Hill, under different auspices. Both had ceased to 
exist prior to the occupancy of the field by the Methodist mission, which 
was formed in i88i,and which developed into the present Cranston Street 
Church. The present church edifice, located at 435 Cranston Street, was 
erected in 1883, at a cost of about seven thousand dollars, and is a model 
of neatness and convenience. The church conducts a mission Sabbath 
School at Cranston. The first pastor was the Rev. W. H. Stetson. It was 
supplied for a time by the Rev. Fred. C. Baker, and the present pastor is 
the Rev. H. E. Cooke. The present membership is ninety-seven. During 



the two years of Mr. Cooke's pastorate, sixty-nine have been added to the 
church. The Sabbath School now numbers over two hundred scholars. 

The Harrison Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church was organized 
March 7, 1883. The house of worship is located on Harris Avenue, 
Olneyville. The church has been much blessed by revivals. The first 
pastor was the Rev. Charles F. Sharpe, and the present pastor is the Rev. 
Edwin F. Jones. The present membership is 140. The Sabbath School 
superintendent is the Rev. Edwin F. Jones. The trustees are Samuel 
Wynn, William Mills, S. S. Nicholson, William Lawrell, William Had- 
field, Robert Newton, and William' Annear. The societies are Ladies' 
Aid Society and the Home Mission Society. 

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was organized by col- 
ored people, in 1837. The present edifice, located on Gaspee Street, was 
built in 1858. The first pastor was the Rev. Nathan Blount, and the pres- 
ent pastor is the Rev. R. R. Morris. The present membership is 250. 
The Sabbath School superintendent is Abram Ward, and the school num- 
bers 30P. 

The Mount Zion Methodist Episcopal Church (colored) was or- 
ganized in 1861. Services were held for a time in a private house. The 
present house of worship, located on Lilac Street, was built in 1863. In 
1883 this church withdrew from the New England Conference and remains 
an independent church. Mrs. Annie F. Freeman is the pastor. The 
church has prospered under her labors, and the present membership is 
eighty. The officers of the church are Joseph Brown, John Williams, 
Daniel Smith, James Quinten, Henry Cleggitt, Nash Purnell, John H. 
Smith, Nathaniel Prout, George Burton, Frederick Gilmore. 

The First Union Methodist Church (colored) was organized in 
i860, with seventy-five members. The present house of worship, located 
on Clayton Street, was erected in i860, at a cost of $700. The first pastor 
was the Rev. Daniel L. Smith, and the present pastor is the Rev. J. W. 
Leekins. The present membership is twenty-five. The Sabbath School 
superintendent is Samuel Osburne, and connected with the church is the 
society of Willing Workers. 

The First Universalist Church. — A few persons interested in the 
doctrines of Universalism held a meeting in the Court House, April 10, 
1821, out of which grew the organization known as the First Universalist 
Church of this city, founded Aug. 18, 1823. The church worshiped 
several years in a house located on the present site of the Boston store 
on the corner of Westminster and Union streets. The present edifice, 
located corner Washington and Greene streets, was erected in 1872 at a 
cost of about forty-five thousand dollars. The first pastor was the Rev. 
David Pickering, and the present pastor is the Rev. Henry J. Cushman. 
The present membership is 201. The deacons are Alanson Pitcher, Albert 
Briggs, Benjamin B. Edwards, Ephraim Goff, and Daniel H. Matthewson. 
The Sabbath School superintendent is Charles E. Carpenter. The socie- 
ties are First Universalist Society, the Ladies' Humane Society, and the 
Literary and Social Union. The trustees are John M. Buffi ngton, Israel 
B. Mason, Sylvester G. Martin, Shirley A. Elsbree, Charles E. Carpenter, 
and William Oscar Cornell. 

The Church of the Mediator (Universalist) was organized in 1840. 
Services were maintained a few years in a hall with small promise. In 
1845 the society was reorganized, and a church edifice was built on Broad 
Street in 1848, which was used for worship twenty years. 

The present house of worship on the corner of Cranston and Burgess 
streets, is a fine brick structure, erected in 1868-9, at a cost of about 
seventy thousand dollars. The first pastor was the Rev. James M. Cook, 
and the present pastor is the Rev. Henry W. Rugg. The present member- 
ship is 196. The deacons are William E. Whitney, George H. Leavens, 
and William B. Westcott; and the Sabbath School superintendent, Wil- 
liam S. Johnson. The president of the parish organization is Lyman 
Pierce ; secretary, George H. Burnham ; treasurer, Daniel N. Davis. The 
societies are the Young People's Missionary Association, and the Parish 
Union. 

The Broad Street Christian Church was organized July 4, 1834, 
with twenty members. The present edifice, located corner Broad and Fen- 
ner streets, was erected in 1841. The first pastor was the Rev. Elijah W. 
Barrows, and the present pastor is the Rev. C A. Tillinghast. The pres- 
ent membership is 200. The deacons are John P. Dunham, John F. Pills, 
Henry S. Vaughn, and Marcus W. Morton. The societies are Ladies' 
Social Circle, Ladies' Foreign Missionary Society, Helping Hand Lit- 
erary Society, and Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor. 

The Church of the New Jerusalem (Swedenborgian) was organ- 
ized in 1839, with nine members. The present church edifice, located cor- 
ner of Broad and Linden streets, was erected in i87o-'72,ata cost of about 
thirty thousand dollars. The first pastor was the Rev. T. D. Sturtevant, 
and the present pastor is the Rev. Warren Goddard, Jr. The present 
membership is 107. The Sabbath School superintendent is George E. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



*** 



Manchester, and the church has a flourishing young people's society. 
Through the generosity of Joseph A. Barker, Esq., this church owns a 
permanent free bed in the Rhode Island Hospital, for the use of poor 
needy persons, irrespective of religious belief. 

The First United Presbyterian Church was organized in May, 
1847, with twenty-two members. The present church edifice, located on 
Broadway, corner Hicks Street, was erected in 1848. The first pastor was 
the Rev. Joseph Sanderson, D. d., and the present pastor is the Rev. 
Matthew S. McCord, A. m., 55 Vernon Street. The present membership 
is 250. The elders are Daniel Mcintosh, Alexander Blaikie, John James 
McKenzie, Thomas J. Taylor, William McKenzie, and the Sabbath School 
superintendent is William McKenzie. The societies are the Home Mis- 
sion Band and Young Ladies* Aid Society. 

The First Presbyterian Church was organized Oct. 25, 1872, 
and the present church edifice, located on Clifford Street, was built in 
1875-6, at a cost of $38,000. The first pastor was the Rev. John Dixon, 
and the present membership is 300. The church is now without a pastor, 
the last pastor, the Rev. R. D. Sproull, having resigned in June, 1886. 
The elders are Robert McMeehan, Daniel Glover, John Tenace, David B. 
Forbes, John McGregor, and Robert Marshall, and the Sabbath School 
superintendent is Daniel B. Forbes. The mission work is carried on by 
the Ladies' Missionary Society. 

The Church op the Yahveh (Evangelical Adventists) was organized 
in 1850. The present house of worship, located corner Pearl and Provi- 
dence streets, was dedicated in December, 1878. The first pastor was 
the Rev. N. Hervey, and the present pastor is the Rev. L. Osier. The 
present membership is 376. The church is Congregational in form and 
is incorporated. The deacons are R. R. Knowles, H. Leland, J. Glover, 
and E. Baker; and the Sabbath School superintendent is J. Glover. The 
societies are Ladies' Aid Society and Home Missionary Society. 

The Advent Christian Church was organized in 1871, with ten mem- 
bers. The psesent church edifice, located on Hammond Street, near Di- 
vision, was erected in 1873. The first pastor was the Rev. Marshall Phete- 
place, and the present pastor is the Rev. Norman P. Cook. The present 
membership is 145. The deacons are Nathaniel Phillips and Harris O. 
Potter, and the Sabbath School superintendent is Josiah B. Baxter. The 
societies are Ladies' Aid Society, and Band of Hope. 

The Free 
Religious So- 



ciety was or- 
ganized in Feb- 
ruary, 1874. 
This society is 
independent, 
and leaves its 
members en- 
tirely free in 
the exercise of 
religious be- 
lief. Meetings 
are held in 
B lacks tone 
Hall, on the 
corner of 
Washington 
and Snow 
streets. # The 
first and pres- 
ent minister, 
the Rev. Fred- 
e r i c k A. 
Hinckley, was 
settled in Oc- 
tober, 1878. 
The Sunday 
School was or- 
ganized Oct. 
13. 1878. The 
president of 
the society is 
Arnold B. 
Chace ; secre- 
ta r y, Miss 
Charlette R. 
Haswell ; treas- 
u r e r, George 
Lewis. 





THE FIRST UNIVERSALIST CHURCH, 
Greene Street. 



THE SECOND UNIVERSALIST CHURCH, 
Cranston Street. 

The Swedish Mission Methodist Episcopal Church was organized 
June 4, 1883, with twenty-five members. Services are held in Slade Hall, 
45 Eddy Street. The first and present pastor is the Rev. Niles Elkland, 
and the Sabbath School superintendent is A. J. Pettreson. The present 
membership is ninety. 

The Union Sea and Land Mission has been in operation for a 
score or more of years. It is unsectarian, and the services are conducted 
in the open air, either on the wharves or on shipboard. It is superin- 
tended by the Rev. Charles H. Plummer. 

The Sunday School Superintendents' Union of Providence and 
vicinity was organized in October, 1884, its object being to promote the 
general effectiveness of Sunday School work. Any superintendent of any 
Evangelical Sunday School in Providence or vicinity is eligible to mem- 
bership. General meetings of the union are held on the second Friday 
evenings in October, January, and April of each year. To meet the ex- 
penses of the union an annual tax of one dollar is assessed on each mem- 
ber. Special meetings are held whenever deemed necessary by the exec- 
utive committee. Mr. J. William Rice is president of the union; Mr. 
G. W. S. Burroughs, secretary, and Mr. T. W. Waterman, treasurer. 

The Baptist Superintendents' Union, of Providence and vicinity, 
was organized in September, 1882. The constitution of the society states 
that its object is "to suggest and promote the best methods of Sunday 
School work." The superintendent of any Sunday School in Providence 
or vicinity is eligible to membership. Officers are elected annually at the 
September meeting. Meetings are held on the third Fridays of September, 
November, January, March, and May. To meet the expenses of the asso- 
ciation, members are assessed at each meeting a sum not exceeding fifty 
cents. The following-named gentlemen are the officers for 1885-6: T. W. 
Waterman, president; H. F. Horton, secretary; E. H. Fry, treasurer. 

The Methodist Social Union is the name of an organization that was 
formed in Providence in January, 1882. The object of the association is 
stated to be "to promote the spirit of fraternal intercourse and Christian 
enterprise among the members and congregations of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church in Providence and vicinity. This object is said to have been 
fully accomplished. The association rapidly grew in numbers, and is now 
\n a very flourishing condition. Regular meetings are held on the third 
Friday in the months of January, March, May, and November, and special 
meetings at the call of the executive committee. The following are the 
officers for 1886: president, Walter H. Barney ; vice-presidents, Albert J. 
Manchester, Samuel H. Bailey; secretary, J. E. C. Farnham; treasurer, 
George W. Lamphear; corresponding secretary, William Jamieson ; direc- 
tors, George Nicholson, Ellery Millard, Williston A. Cady, William N. 
Johnson, John T. Haslam. 



Digitized by 



Google 




THE SS. PETER AND PAUL'S CATHEDRAL, PROVIDENCE. 



Digitized by 



Gooi 



Chapter VI. 



THE RELIGIOUS LIFE OF THE CITY.— Continued. 



the early catholic church in rhode island — early missionary work — the first catholic church in newport — the 
first catholics of providence — the first regular priest for providence — bishop fen wick — in 1 830 catholics 
number 1,000 in the city — formation of the hartford diocese — bishop tyler — lives of the bishops of the 
diocese, tyler, o'reilley, mcfarland, and hendricken — june, l886, bishop hendricken estimates catholic popu- 
lation of providence 50,000 — the new cathedral — description of the edifice — historical sketches of the 

catholic churches of the city — st. patrick's — st. mary's st. joseph's — church of the immaculate conception 

— st. Michael's — st. edward's — st. john the evangelist's church — church of the assumption — st. charles 

borremeo (french) — holy name — st. theresa's society of st. boniface (german) — our lady of the rosary 

(portuguese) — st. augustine's church society (colored) italian catholics — the religious orders and socie- 
ties connected with the church — sisters of the order of mercy — st. aloysius' orphan asylum — st. xavibr's 

AND ST. MARY'S ACADEMIES LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR — ACADEMY OF THE SACRED HEART — SISTERS OF CHARITY 

SOCIETY OF URSULINE NUNS ST. VINCENT DE PAUL'S BENEVOLENT SOCIETY. 



To those unacquainted with the early history of Catholicity in 
Rhode Island the story»of its continuous and rapid growth when 
once firmly established, and a recital of the privations and hard- 
ships which the early Catholics endured for their faith, when, 
instead of a daily mass it often happened that months would pass 
without seeing a priest, can but prove interesting and instructive. 
Sixty years ago the Catholics were but few in number, and had 
not the means to erect a church. The announcement that mass 
would be said at the house of some friend was hailed as a bless- 
ing sent from heaven, and visits of the missionary priests sent 
frdm Boston were among the brightest and pleasantest days of 
their lives. In remembering them, they kept alive their religious 
faith until the missionary's return increased it still more. 

The Catholics in Rhode Island to-day enjoy their services as a 
matter of course, without realizing that they are heavenly pleas- 
ures which their fathers or ancestors labored diligently to obtain. 
The first historical knowledge of the presence of Catholics in 
Rhode Island was during the Revolutionary War, when the French 
troops came to Newport in 1778. The State House was used as 
a chapel and hospital, and mass celebrated there by the chaplains 
under Count D'Estaing. Whether a few of the residents became 
converted or some of the French remained after the departure of 
the fleet, is not stated, but it is certain, however, that there were 
Catholics in Newport after the visit of the French to its shores. 

As early as 181 1, the Rev. Dr. Matignon, an exiled French 
missionary, who was sent by Bishop Carroll to Boston in August, 
1792, and the Right Rev. John De Cheverus, consecrated the 
first bishop of Boston in 18 10, visited the town of Bristol to 
celebrate mass and baptize the children of the French- American 
Catholics residing there. 

Providence was the third place in Rhode Island where a small 
colony of Catholics was found in 1813. The Rev. Dr. Matignon 
and Bishop Cheverus, after they visited Bristol, came occasionally 
to Providence from 1813 until 1828. The first service was held in 
an old wooden school-house on Sheldon Street, near Benefit, that 
was blown down in the " great gale" of 181 5. The principal 
members of the church at this time were Luke Higgins, William 
Rumford, Charles Delahunty, and Francis McGill. 

From 1 8 15 until 1828 mass was celebrated in private houses, — 
anywhere it could be said with safety. On several occasions it 
was said in the old police station, in the old building corner of 
Richmond and Pine streets, and in the basement of a house still 
standing on Aborn Street, near Sabin. The parents of the Rev. 



Father Campbell and Mr. Michael Campbell, of this city, one 
of whom is still living, were regular in their attendance at these 
services, being two of the seven Catholics in the city in 1820. 

In 1827 the Catholics in Providence and vicinity asked Bishop 
Fenwick, then the bishop of Boston, for the special services of a 
priest. The Rev. Robert D. Woodley, who had labored in the 
Boston diocese for two or three years, was appointed the first 
pastor of Rhode Island and Connecticut, officiating during his 
ministry at Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Newport, Hart- 
ford, New Haven, New London, and Taunton. 

The first public Catholic service in Providence was a mass cel- 
ebrated by the Right Rev. Bishop Fenwick, in Mechanics Hall, 
on April 14, 1828. He preached a discourse during the mass, 
and at its conclusion administered the sacrament of confirmation 
to five persons. It was a memorable day for the Catholics of the 
state, and likewise for the many Protestants that attended the ser- 
vice, several of whom are still living. 

Meanwhile David Wilkinson, Esq., of Pawtucket, had pre- 
sented the Catholics in that vicinity with a suitable lot on which 
to erect a church. The bishop went to Pawtucket the day fol- 
lowing the service to thank Mr. Wilkinson for his generosity. A 
church was erected upon the lot in 1829, and thus the first mass 
in Pawtucket was celebrated by the Rev. Father Woodley, in old 
St. Mary's. 

The Catholics at this time numbered from one hundred and fifty 
to two hundred. The Rev. John Corry, commonly called Curry, 
succeeded Father Woodley in 1830. While he was pastor the 
civil authorities of the town granted the Catholics the use of the 
"Old Town House," where services were held for four or five 
years. A site for a church in Providence was purchased Jan. 17, 
1832. The Catholics had been looking for a suitable location 
for some time, and as the fact became publicly known, they found 
it impossible to obtain any, so strong was the feeling against the 
project. Francis Hye was commissioned to purchase the lot for 
Father Corry. The purchase was made in Duty Greene's store 
on Christian Hill, between William Hye and Isaac Matthew son, 
who did not know the purpose for which the lot was bought until 
the deed was drawn. The lot measured fifty feet on High Street 
and extended back to Pond Street 210 feet, and cost $1,500. 
After the purchase was made, Mr. Matthewson offered $100 and 
finally $500 more than was paid for the lot, if Mr. Hye would re- 
convey it to him. The last offer was considered by the Catholics 
for some time, as $500 was a large amount to them at that time. 



Digitized by 



Google 



156 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



Father Corry, with whom the decision was left, after viewing 
the site remarked that "Ina few years there will be no such 
place in Providence as this for a Catholic Church," and told Mr. 
Hye to refuse the offer. The building of the church, however, 
did not commence until three years later, as the Catholics were 
very poor and had little money with which to erect the building. 
They numbered at this time about three hundred. In November, 
1832, Father Corry was sent to Taunton, and was succeeded by 
Father Connelley, who attended both Pawtucket and Provi- 
dence. Father Lee succeeded in May, 1834, for three and a half 
years. In 1835 Father Lee commenced the foundation of the 
cathedral which measured 80 x 44 feet. 

From 1830 until the church was finished, the Catholics enjoyed 
the privilege of services in the Town Hall, through the generosity 
of the people, where Bishop Fenwick for the second time said 
mass in Providence, to encourage the building of the church, and 
preached to the Catholics of the city, estimated at one thousand. 
They had rapidly increased in five years, owing to the construction 
of the railroad and other works in the city, in which many Irishmen 
were employed. There were many difficulties to be surmounted 
after the foundation of the church was laid, the principal one 
being the lack of funds to carry on the work. The mechanics 
threatened from time to time to lay an attachment on the building 
for their wages, and on every such occasion the bishop was 
obliged to aid the people, although very poor at that time. The 
work was discontinued from October, 1836, to September, 1837. 
Father Lee's successors were Fathers Lynch, McNamee, and 
Miller. 

Rev. Father Corry again took charge of the congregation in 
May, 1837, anc * aided the completion of the church so that service 
was held in it for the first time on the second Sunday in Advent, 
December i, of the same year. The church was thirty-four feet 
high, with a basement containing two large school-rooms. The 
walls, which were paid for with money sent to the Catholics from 
Germany, were built of slate-stone covered with cement. During 
the next summer the interior was fittted up and although not 
entirely finished, on Nov. 4, 1838, Saints Peter and Paul's 
Church was dedicated. The church was $5,000 in debt, but 
through the appeal of the bishop to the generous, Protestants as 
well as Catholics, at the ceremonies, the amount was considerably 
lessened. 

At Christmas, 1838, Philip Allen & Son presented the church 
with a Spanish bell weighing 1,000 pounds, and later contributed 
$300 towards a bell for St. Patrick's Church. The organ was 
placed in the church in 1841. 

During the ten years from 1837 to 1847, there were 2,259 bap- 
tisms and 594 marriages. 

The Rev. James Fitton succeeded the Rev. Father Corry in 
October, 1843. He improved the cathedral by causing windows 
to be placed in the church on the east as well as the west side, 
and one of his first movements was to establish Catholic schools 
wherever a sufficient number of scholars could be assembled. 

In 1844 tne diocese of Hartford, including the states of Rhode 
Island and Connecticut, was formed, as there were then 4,817 
Catholics, three priests, and four churches in Connecticut, and 
5,180 Catholics, three priests, and four churches in Rhode Island. 
The Right Rev. William Tyer, d. d., was consecrated the first 
bishop on March 17, 1844. On his arrival at Providence, the 
city in which he had selected to reside, he chose Saints Peter 
and Paul's Church as his cathedral. 

He immediately began the work of enlarging the original build- 
ing to more than double its original dimensions, and purchased, in 
November, 1845, and March, 1846, two lots at a cost of $29,000 
for the two wings. The work upon the additions was superin- 
tended by the bishop himself, and he also paid the workmen. 



The Rev. Father Fitton, who now attended Woonsocket, Paw- 
tucket, and Newport, erected the sacristy on Pond Street shortly 
afterwards. There were no more changes in the building until 
it was re-decorated and frescoed while the Rev. Hugh Carmody 
was pastor. The church caught fire while this work was in 
progress but the results were not serious. 

Bishop Tyler's episcopal residence was a small one-story, one- 
room wooden building. His labors during his five years' episco- 
pate were very arduous and difficult, as he had in both states but 
six priests, at first, to assist him. 

The Right Rev. William Tyler, d. d., the first bishop of the 
Hartford and Providence diocese, was born in Vermont, in 1804, 
of Protestant parents, but became a Catholic at eighteen years of 
age. He was ordained priest in 1828, by Bishop Fenwick at Bos- 
ton, and consecrated first bishop of Hartford, at Baltimore, on 
March 17, 1844. He came to Providence to reside, and made 
Saints Peter and Paul's Church his cathedral. He purchased two 
lots and enlarged the building, adding the Fenner Street wing. 
He died of rheumatic fever contracted at the council of Baltimore 
on June 18, 1849, anc * was Di m e ci in the basement of the cathedra] 
June 20. Professor Jantz, the present cathedral organist, was 
assistant director of the musical portion of the funeral service. 
When the cathedral was torn down, his remains were removed to 
the pro-cathedral, where they now lie under the altar. As soon 
as the services cease in the building, the Temains will be placed 
in the opening of the crypt of the new cathedral, directly over 
the remains of Bishop Hendricken. 

The Right Rev. Bernard O'Reilley, the second bishop of Hart- 
ford, succeeded Bishop Tyler after the see had been vacant a year, 
and meanwhile the number of Catholics in Providence had in- 
creased to 5,000. He was consecrated bishop Nov. 10, 1850, 
and a short time after went to Europe. While there he ordained 
Bishop Hendricken a priest at Dublin, in 1853, and invited him to 
come to America. While returning from a second visit in 1856, 
on the steamer "Pacific," he and all on board found a watery 
grave. The grief of the Catholics at the tidings was deep and 
sad beyond description. 

The Right Rev. Francis Patrick McFarland, the third bishop 
of Hartford, was born in Franklin, Penn., in 181 8. He gradu- 
ated from Mount St. Mary's, Emmettsburg, Md. ; was ordained 
priest on May 18, 1846, and consecrated bishop March 14, 1858. 
Bishop McFarland made many parishes, and built many churches 
in Providence. He laid the corner-stone and dedicated St. 
Mary's, St. Michael's, St. John's, and the Assumption. 

In 1870, within a quarter of a century, the Hartford diocese 
had 100 churches, 64 chapels, 9^ priests, and a congregation of 
200,000 ; so, at the beginning of the year 1872, the diocese of 
Hartford was divided and Providence made a separate see. 
Bishop McFarland left Providence, taking with him several 
clergymen, Sisters of Mercy, and members of other orders, and 
went to Hartford to reside. He administered the affairs of the 
Hartford diocese until his death, which occurred Oct. 12, 1874. 
He was beloved not only by his flock in Providence and Hartford, 
but also by every person, Protestant or Catholic, who made his 
acquaintance. 

The Right Rev. Bishop Hendricken was consecrated and began 
his episcopal labors April 28, 1872, with twenty churches and about 
thirty-five priests. In six years he had introduced four new relig- 
ious orders into the diocese, established thirteen new parishes 
and erected the brick episcopal residence upon Pond Street and 
the pro-cathedral upon the garden plat belonging to the Sisters of 
Mercy's estate, on the corner of Broad and Foster streets, in pre- 
paration of his great life work, the building of the new cathedral. 
The old cathedral, though only forty years built when destroyed, 
was not a substantial edifice, and upon the Holy Thursday pre- 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



>57 



vious to its destruction, portions of the ceiling 
fell upon the assembled congregation and 
created considerable excitement. The fare- 
well services in the " old church," as it was 
generally called, occurred Sunday, May 5, 
1878. At the nine o'clock service the bishop 
administered for the last time the sacrament 
of confirmation to 300 candidates. Mass was 
celebrated for the last time at 10.30 o'clock 
by the Rev. Father McSweeney, then the 
rector of the cathedral, in the presence of a 
sad congregation, to many of whom fond 
memories clustered about the sacred walls of 
a church at whose first service they had also 
been present. The bishop preached the fare- 
well discourse, and was visibly affected, as it 
was in the cathedral that he preached his first 
sermon and celebrated almost his first mass. 
At- the conclusion of the mass, the bishop 
gave the pontifical benediction to the congre- 
gation. In the afternoon he assisted at the 
last vesper service, one for the children. 

In another week the " old church" ceased 
to exist, and with its demolition the history 
of the new cathedral commenced. The con- 
gregation has since held services at the pro- 
cathedral, which contains the pews, altars, 
furniture, and organ of the old cathedral. 
They will continue to do so until the new 
building is completed. 

The Rev. Joseph F. McDonough has been 
the rector for several years, assisted by the 
Rev. William Stang and the Rev. James 
Coyle, who, on being appointed pastor of St. 
Joseph's, Newport, was succeeded by the 
Rev. Charles J. Burns, formerly a Paulist mis- 
sionary. Father Stang was appointed pastor 
at Cranston, but was recalled to the cathedral 
by Bishop Hendricken shortly before his death. 
The parish has now a congregation of 6,000, 
two parochial schools, and two academies. 

In June, 1886, Bishop Hendricken esti- 
mated that there were about fifty thousand 
Catholics in the city of Providence. There 
are five parochial schools, six academies, 
seven chapels, thirteen churches, and twenty- 
seven priests in Providence at this time, 
showing a wonderful growth for any religion 
in a single community in fifty years. In the 
diocese there are sixty-five churches and one 
hundred priests, ninety-seven secular, and 
three regular. 

Pending the appointment and consecration 
of a new bishop, which will probably not occur until the begin- 
ning of a new year, the affairs of the diocese are under the charge 
of the Very Rev. Vicar-General McCabe, appointed adminis- 
trator of the diocese by the Most Rev. Archbishop Williams, of 
Boston, the week following the death of Bishop Hendricken. 

The Right Rev. Thomas Francis Hendricken, d. d., first 
bishop of Providence, was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, in May, 
1827, of Irish parentage. His theological studies were pursued 
in the Royal College, Maynooth. He was ordained priest in 
1853, by Bishop O'Reilley, of Hartford, and with him came to 
Providence. In 1854 ne was appointed curate at St. Joseph's and 
the old cathedral, and later in the same year became pastor at West 
Winsted, Conn., where he cleared the church of a heavy debt, 




THE RT. REV. THOMAS F. HENDRICKEN, 
The First Bishop of the Providence Oiocese. Consecrated April 28, 1872: Oied June I I, 



1886. 



and laid the foundation for other churches. He was transferred 
to Waterbury in 1855, where, in the seventeen years of his min- 
istry, he built the Church of the Immaculate Conception, a con- 
vent, a pastoral residence, a parochial school, in which he him- 
self taught, and laid out a cemetery. In 1872, the Hartford 
diocese was divided, the diocese of Providence created, and Dr. 
Hendricken appointed its first bishop by Pius IX. He was con- 
secrated by Cardinal McCloskey, April 28, 1872, in the old 
cathedral. During the fourteen years of his bishopric he more 
than doubled the number of clergymen, made thirty-five new 
parishes, superintending the erection of a church in each, and 
founded the Sacred Heart Academy, St. Mary's Seminary, the 
Ursuline Convent, besides introducing French Sisters into Fall 



Digitized by 



Google 



1 5 8 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



River, and the Little Sisters of the Poor into this city. To im- 
prove and increase the educational facilities for his flock was ever 
one of his chief ambitions, and thus he founded parochial schools 
in every part of the diocese. In the cathedral parish he liquidated 
the debt upon the old cathedral, erected the episcopal residence 
and the pro-cathedral. His great life work and an everlasting 
monument to his labors, was the building of the new cathedral. 
Friday, June u, 1886, within two weeks of the date upon which 
he had hoped to see the edifice consecrated, he died, after a short 
illness caused by a cold contracted while collecting money for the 
building. His last episcopal visit was at the Church of the Holy 
Name, on Sunday, May 24. He was most fittingly buried in the 
new cathedral, with a wealth of ceremonial that was never before 
seen in our city, on Thursday, June 17. His remains lie in the 
crypt under the main altar, in the basement of the edifice. His 
loss is daily more keenly felt, not only by the Catholics of the state 
and diocese, but also by the entire community. 

The New Saints Peter and Paul's Cathedral. — The project of 
erecting a new cathedral was simultaneous with the formation of Provi- 
dence into an episcopal see. 

Immediately after his consecration, Bishop Hendricken arranged to 
secure the erection of a cathedral for his new diocese, by purchasing 
additional land, building the pro-cathedral and making other necessary 
preliminaries. The work of preparation was slow, but when commenced 
progressed steadily. The contract for building the basement was made 
on April 10, 1878. On May 5, the work of demolishing the old cathedral 
commenced, and on August 13, the construction of the basement began. 
On Thanksgiving Day of the same year in the presence of Archbishop 
Williams, four bishops, fifty priests, and about ten thousand persons, the 
corner-stone of Irish marble, was laid in the northeast corner of the 
building. The discourse was delivered by Father Fidelis, (the Rev. James 
Kent Stone), a Passionist missionary. The day was one of great rejoic- 
ing among the Catholics of the diocese, and was the greatest event in the 
history of Catholicity in the diocese, its consecration marking the second 
epoch. The new cathedral occupies the site of the old one, one of the 
most prominent locations in the city. It is erected in the form of a cross, 
with the foot on Pond Street, and the head on High Street. The building 
extends 120 feet upon High, 198 upon Fenner, and 136 upon Pond Street. 
Its extreme length is 198 feet ; extreme width 136 feet ; width at nave 50 feet ; 
height, 74 feet. The front will have two magnificent towers, each 156 
feet, crowned by spires, and two turrets, one at each corner. It is built 
of brown stone and its foundations are of the most solid character. The 
main floor is supported by fifty-six iron pillars, resting on a foundation sim- 
ilar to the church walls. The basement is fifteen feet high, and is lighted 
by thirty-five windows. It Is finished in keeping with the design of the 
interior and will be used by the young people of the congregation. The 
old cathedral organ, now in use at the pro-cathedral, will be placed in the 
basement at the right of the sanctuary. The beauty and design of the 
interior is not excelled by any church in the United States. None but skilled 
artists, who have achieved and merited their high rank, have been engaged 
in its finest work. The five circular paintings in the ceiling and above 
the altars, were the work of the celebrated German painter, Lamprecht ; 
the stained glass window, of the Pustats, of Innspruck; the cartoons, 
Professor Kline, of Munich; the marble pillars, Theis and Trueg, of 
Munich; the decorator, Bodes, of New York; statues and statuary, 
Sibyl & Birk, New York. The floor of the vestibule, aisles, porches, 
sanctuary, and chapels are tiled with white American marble, and white- 
veined Italian marble. The marble wainscoting of the walls is gray 
Ophite for three feet, and red Wakefield marble panels. Twenty-six 
pillars of Ophite marble, no two alike, including four clusters of three, 
support the galleries and arches. On the pillar capitals are 120 groups of 
statuary, representing emblems of the old and new sacrifice and all types 
of nature from the time of Adam to the present age. The groups upon the 
clustered pillars are constructed according to Scripture. Four large statues 
of the Evangelists occupy niches above the capitals of the four clustered 
pillars. The most prominent feature of the interior is the ceiling, com- 
posed of colored woods divided into oblong panels, decorated in Mosaic 
patterns and garnished with ebony, African wood, and gold. The grand 
central feature of the ceiling is the painting of the Transfiguration, sur- 
rounded at equal distances by four smaller paintings of Peter and Paul, the 
patron 6aints of the church, and Moses and Elias. They cost $30,000. The 
windowson the west side of the church are filled with scenes from the New 
Testament, and on the east from the Old Testament. 

The pews and confessionals are of light oak stained in cherry. They 



will seat 2,000 persons, and the treforium galleries 500 more. The five 
marble altars are of Gothic design and cost $10,000. The organ, built by 
Roosevelt, also co6t $10,000, and is believed to surpass every other instru- 
ment in the city in purity of tone. To complete the edifice Bishop Hen- 
dricken intended placing a clock in one tower and a chime of bells in the 
other. Jan. 1, 1886, the bishop had expended $316,617.67 upon the build- 
ing. The additional amount necessary to complete the work, part of 
which is now spent, will be nearly one hundred thousand dollars. It is 
estimated that the building could not be duplicated at the present time 
for less than $1,000,000. 

P. C. Keeley, of Brooklyn, is the architect The date of its dedication 
or consecration cannot be decided upon until the appointment of Bishop 
Hendricken 's successor. Its first dedication, however, will be always con- 
sidered to have occurred at his funeral service upon June 17, 1886. The 
second service in the building was the " Month's Mind," on July 13, 1886. 

St. Patrick's Church, State Street, is now the oldest church in the 
city, and has the wealthiest congregation. The accommodations of the 
old church being insufficient for the Catholics of the north end, Bishop 
Fenwick was asked to come to Providence and approve of a site for a new 
church upon State Street. The Rev. William Fennelly, of Pawtucket, 
organized the church, and said mass for the congregation in Franklin and 
Masonic Halls during the building of the church, which was commenced 
April 19, 1849. The Rev. Denis Ryan succeeded in the charge of the 
building, but it was completed under the supervision of its first pastor, the 
Rev. William Wiley, appointed Jan. 16, 1842. The fir6t mass was said 
on Dec. 25, 1841. July 3, 1842, it was dedicated with a solemn pontifical 
mass, the first celebrated in the state. Bishop Fenwick was the celebrant, 
and Bishop Hughes, of New York, preached the discourse. The Rev. 
Edward Murphy, the oldest priest in the diocese, is the only priest now 
living who assisted at this service. 

The church cost $18,270, but will soon have to be replaced by a new one 
as it is falling to pieces. The Rev. Christopher Hughes, pastor since 1869, 
has erected a pastoral residence, parochial school, a new convent, and has 
secured for the church all property between Davis and State streets, on 
Smith, but one estate. His present curates are Fathers McNamara and 
Goodwin. The congregation numbers about four thousand. 

St. Mary's Church, Broadway, has one of the largest congregations 
in the diocese, numbering 8,000 persons. The small wooden building now 
on Barton Street accommodated the people but thirty-four years ago. In 
1832 its corner-stone was laid, but the church was not formally opened until 
1853, when the Rev. John Quinn, d. d., who is buried at the present church 
door, was appointed its pastor. The pastoral residence was shortly built, 
and is the one now used. In 1863 Father Quinn, seeing the necessity of a 
new church, removed the old one, broke ground for the new one in 1864, and 
lived to see it dedicated on July 11, 1869. His successor, the Rev. Robert 
J. Sullivan, is the present pastor, assisted by the Rev. J. C. Tennion and 
the Rev. T. L. Kelly. Father Sullivan has opened a parochial school in 
the old church building, and purchased an estate adjoining the church 
property upon Broadway as a convent and academy for young ladies, 
first occupied by the Ladies of the Sacred Heart but now by the Ursuline 
Nuns. The church celebrated its thirtieth anniversary on Sunday, Aug. 
21, 1882. 

St. Joseph's Church was organized in 185 1, by the Rev. James K. 
O'Reilley. The first services were held in a hall on Benefit Street, now, it is 
said, a tenement structure upon Transit and Ives streets. The site of the 
present church edifice, on Hope Street, was a grave-yard that extended to 
Brook. The church was dedicated by the Very Rev. James Hughes in the 
absence of Bishop O'Rielley, in 1853. Father Hugh Carmody built a paro- 
chial school, taught by the Sisters of Mercy, on the north side of the 
church facing Hope, that was afterwards turned into a pastoral residence, 
by Father Peter Brown. While Father Peter Kelly was pastor, the church 
took fire and had to be nearly all rebuilt, as the work upon the building was 
very imperfect. The last secular pastor was the Rev. Daniel Kelly, who 
died Feb. 17, 1877. He is buried under the monument erected to his mem- 
ory by the parishioners, in the southeast corner of the churchyard. 

The year 1877 also marks the introduction of the Jesuit order into the 
diocese by Bishop Hendricken. St. Joseph's Church was given to them 
as best fitted for their charge, and the venerable missionary, the Rev. 
Father Bapst, s. j., was the first Jesuit pastor. Since the Jesuits have 
been at St. Joseph's, they have erected a large brick parochial school, for 
the past two years open to small boys as well as girls ; added a large 
6acristy at the rear of the church, and very much improved the church 
grounds and surroundings. While the Rev. Father Cleary, s. J., was pas- 
tor, the exterior of the church was repaired and the interior entirely redec- 
orated. The church has now 5,500 members, and is under the pastoral 
charge of the Rev. F. William Gockeln, s. j., assisted by the Rev. J. B. 
Nagle, s. J., and W. J. Hamilton, s. j. The school building will soon be 
enlarged and in a short period the Jesuits will open a college in the city. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



i*9 



The Church of the Immaculate Conception was formed by the 
Rev. Edward J. Cooney in 1857, who found the place sparsely inhabited, 
the land rough and uncultivated, and the field entirely uninviting. He 
was sent by Vicar-General O'Reilley to build up this important parish, now 
numbering 6,000, and during his twenty-one years as pastor he built the 
present edifice, the parochial school adjoining, the parochial residence 
opposite, and the convent and academy, taught by the Sisters of Charity. 
He died on Thanksgiving Day, 1878, while the corner-stone of the new 
cathedral was being laid. The present pastor, the Rev. J. J. Maguire, 
appointed Oct. 30, 1882, has redecorated and refitted the interior of the 
church and school-house, and improved the church property consider- 
ably, while lessening its debt. The Rev. John McCarthy is the curate of 
the church. The Society of the Children of Mary is one of the largest in 
the diocese. 

St. Michael's Church, Prairie Avenue, was formed in 1859, when Vicar- 
General O'Reilley purchased an old Baptist meeting-house, situated on the 
site of the present edifice, and after alterations were made, dedicated the 
building to St. Bernard, and appointed the Rev. Bernard V. Coit, a native 
of Bristol, its first pastor. His death occurred in the fourth year of his 
labors. The Rev. Daniel Mullen was then pastor for seventeen months, 
and was succeeded by the venerable M. A. Wallace, d. d., ll. d., who, 
though in feeble health, is still its pastor. 

The building, unable to accommodate the increasing congregation, was 
in 1867 removed to a lot in the rear, purchased for the purpose, and is now 
used as a part of the asylum institution. The new church was commenced 
in 1867, and was dedicated by Bishop McFarland. The sacristy has since 
been added, and the parochial residence erected upon Prairie Avenue at 
the right of the church. The congregation now numbers about four thou- 
sand. During the absence of the Rev. Father Wallace the past year, the 
Rev. William J. Galvin has had charge of the parish. 

St. Edward's Church, Wanskuck, was from 1865 to 1873 a mission 
attached to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, under the name of 
St. Joseph's. It was made an independent parish in 1874, its name 
changed to St. Edward's, and the Rev. James N. Finnegan appointed the 
pastor. The parish was enlarged in 1878, and increased so rapidly in num- 
bers that a new church was found necessary. The building is now being 
constructed on Branch Avenue, under the supervision of the Rev. Father 
Finnegan, still its pastor. The corner-stone was laid Sunday, June 13, 
of this year, by the Very Rev. Vicar-General McCabe, the death of Bishop 
Hendricken not postponing the ceremony. The church will cost $30,000, 
and will amply accommodate the 1 ,500 members. 

St. John the Evangelist's Church, Atwell's Avenue, was formed by 
the present pastor, the Rev. John J. McCabe, m. a., April 8, 1870, of mem- 
bers of the cathedral and St. Mary's parishes, resident about Federal Hill. 
In May, 187 1, the present brick edifice, corner Atwell's Avenue and Sutton 
Street, costing $100,000 was commenced. Its corner-stone was laid by 
Bishop McFarland in the same year, and was dedicated Sept. 19, 1875, by 
Bishop Hendricken. Father McCabe has erected a fine parochial resi- 
dence on Sutton Street, adjoining to and connected with the church. St. 
John's has ten societies with a total membership of 1,500. It has the 
largest Holy Name Society (men) in the diocese; membership, 340. The 
congregation numbers 5,000. The Rev. John A. Coughlin is Father Mc- 
Cabe's present curate. The choir of the church is the largest in the diocese. 

The Church of the Assumption, commonly spoken of as the "Elm- 
wood Church," was formed by the Rev. Michael M. Clune, in May, 1870, 
and in September of the same year the small wooden church edifice, on 
Potter's Avenue, was erected. The congregation numbers 3,000, and owns 
property valued at $30,000 including the pastoral residence which adjoins 
the church. Father Clune, for some time past has had an assistant, the 
present curate being the Rev. J. A. Hurley. It is the only Catholic church 
in the city that now has a bell to announce its regular services. 

The Church of St. Charles Borrombo, (French Catholic) was 
organized in August, 1878, under the name of St. John's Society, by the 
Rev. C. P. Gabouy. The French Catholics of the city belong to the 
society, attend its meetings and services, formerly held in the hall of La 
Salle Academy, on Fountain Street, until a sufficient amount was realized 
to erect the present building on Harrison Street The church was dedicated 
by Bishop Hendricken, in July, 1881, and called St. Charles Borromeo. 
The building also includes the parochial residence, which is situated in the 
rear of the church. During the present year pews have been placed in 
the church and a tower upon the front. The French Catholic congrega- 
tion of the church and city is 1,200. They are still in charge of the Rev. 
C. P. Gabouy. 

The Church of the Holy Name was formed by the Rev. J. V. Bren- 
nan of members of St. Joseph's, Immaculate Conception, and St. Patrick's 
parishes, resident in the north end of the city, in November, 1882. Until 
the erection of the present edifice upon Jenkins Street, services were held 
in the hall in Angell building, at the head of Constitution Hill. The 



inconveniences were so great that in May, 1883, the present pastor, the 
Rev. James C. Walsh, bought land and erected the church building which 
includes a hall in the basement, first used for services, four school-rooms that 
will soon be used for the education of the children, and the chapel situated 
upon the third floor. The building was dedicated by Bishop Hendricken, 
March 29, 1884. Father Walsh has also erected a fine pastoral residence, 
facing on Camp Street, and has formed, among the congregation of 1,500, 
four societies. 

St. Theresa's Church is an outgrowth of St. Mary's and m small 
portion of St. John's parishes. The church was formed and the first service 
held Jan. 15, 1884, in Unity Hall, Olney ville. The Rev. Edward Murphy, 
assistant at St. Mary's was appointed its pastor. After a few months of 
services at the hall, a sufficient amount was collected to commence to build 
a church, and as soon as the basement was completed, services were held 
there, and early in the year 1885 the building was dedicated, the first 
service being held April 20, 1885. During Father Murphy's absence in 
Europe, Father Luby became pastor, and is now retained as curate. The 
congregation numbers 2,000. 

Our Lady of the Rosary is the name of the Portuguese Catholic 
Church on Wickenden Street. It was originally a skating rink, but with 
the aid of Bishop Hendricken, was secured and converted into a church by 
the Portuguese Catholics, who mainly reside in that section of the city. 
For years they had attended St. Joseph's Church and held special service 
the third Sunday of the month, conducted by the Rev. Father Freitas, of 
New Bedford. He had charge of the church from its dedication, Sunday, 
March 23, 1885, until Father Eliott was appointed its first pastor, pending 
the ordination of the Rev. A. L. Serpa, the first Portuguese clergyman 
ordained in the diocese. Father Serpa's congregation is about one thousand. 

St. Augustine's Society is composed of the colored Catholics of the 
city, many of whom were born in the faith, but the majority are converts. 
When only ten in number they were instructed by the Rev. Father 
Hughes, at St. Patrick's, but were subsequently instructed at the cathe- 
dral. Dec. 16, 1875, they were formally organized by the Rev. P. P. Car- 
lin, and have since held special meetings every Sunday evening in the 
.basement of the pro-cathedral. The Rev. Father Stang was their last 
chaplain, and now the Rev. Charles J. Burns, of the cathedral, is in 
charge until a spiritual director is assigned them. 

The Italian Catholic population of the city are principally resi- 
dent in St. John's parish, and have occasionally received instruction in 
Italian, by the Rev. Henry F. Conboy. Bishop Hendricken a few days 
before his death estimated that there were one thousand German, Italian, 
and colored Catholics in the city. 

The Society of St. Boniface was formed by the German Catholic 
population of the city under the Rev. Father Shaale, now pastor of St 
Boniface's Church, in New Haven, Conn. He was appointed to the 
charge by Bishop McFarland, and said mass for them regularly in old St. 
Mary's Church, Barton Street. Since 1878 they have been under the care 
of the Rev. William Stang, of the cathedral, for whom the bishop sent 
especially to Germany. Father Stang at special periods, also preaches to 
German Catholics in the other cities of the diocese. A special service is 
held on the third Sunday of each month in the pro-cathedral, as they are 
not yet numerous or wealthy enough to build a church. 

Societies Connected with the Church. 

The Sisters of the Order of Mercy were introduced into the dio- 
cese by Bishop O'Reilley, March 12, 1851. Five sisters under Mother 
Xavier Ward, the foundress of the order in America, came to Providence 
and resided for a short time in a small house on High Street. It wa6 the 
fourth-branch house of the order, the first or mother house being at Pitts- 
burg, Penn., the others at Chicago and New York, under Mother Xavier 
Ward. From Providence, the noble woman went to Manchester, where 
July 16, 1858, she founded another house and remained there until her 
death which occurred Nov. 17, 1884. 

In the latter part of 1881, the sisters came to the old stone mansion, 
corner Broad and Claverick streets, on the Stead estate, which was pur- 
chased for them by the bishop at a cost of $30,000. In September of the 
same year the sisters commenced to teach a day school, opened by the 
bishop in the basement of the old cathedral, St. Patrick's parochial 
school, and also opened an academy in the convent for young ladies. 

St. Aloysius Asylum, the first Catholic Orphan Asylum, was founded 
at the same time and was a small wooden building, still occupied, in Wins- 
low Place, situated on the site of the brick building on Claverick Street. 
Its first occupants were little girls from Hartford, Taunton, and Boston, 
as well as Providence. In 1856 the asylum was removed to the right wing 
of the brick convent building, which was erected to afford better accom- 
modations for teaching, and for the orphans. The left wing, making the 
building as it now stands, was ddded in 1865, the old and new buildings 
being connected by a long wooden corridor, divided into sections as play- 
rooms for the children. 



Digitized by 



Google 



i6o 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



In i860, the building of St. Aloysius* Orphan Asylum pn Prairie 
Avenue was commenced by Bishop McFarland, to accommodate the 
pressing needs of the rapidly increasing number of orphans. On Easter 
Sunday, 1861, the orphans were removed to the asylum under the care of 
Sister Patricia and ten sisters. They were then forty in number. At 
present there are 125 boys and 115 girls in the institution, and more 
accommodation is wanted for the many that are pressing for admittance. 
They are under the care and direction of Mother Leo, assisted by a large 
number of sisters who teach them in the old St. Bernard's Church, clothe, 
feed, and sew for them, and administer to all their physical and spiritual 
wants. The institution depends upon the contributions of the public for 
its support, and has until within three years received the proceeds of the 
annual " Orphans' Fair." They are now dependent upon church collec- 
tions and voluntary contributions. The amount of work that has been 
accomplished by the sisters for the orphans, from 185 1 to 1886, cannot be 
told in words. 

St. Xavier's Academy and St. Mary's Seminary. — St. Xavier's 
Academy, both a day and boarding-school, was removed to the new building 
in 1865. The continued increase in the number of day scholars encroached 
upon the boarding-school, so that in April, 1874, tne °^ Vue de l'Eau 
estate, in East Providence, was purchased by the sisters for a boarding- 
school, and is known as St. Mary's Seminary, Bay View. A study, hall, 
chapel, and dormitory were added soon after the seminary was opened. 

In 1884, as additional accommodations were wanted for the requirements 
of the pupils, a second and larger addition was commenced, and was com- 
pleted for Commencement Day, June, 1885, when the new hall was used 
for the first time. The second floor of the new building contains a library, 
music-rooms, studios, painting, and tapestry rooms, for the teaching of 
the fine arts for which Bay View has become famous. St. Xavier's 
Academy is now a day school only. Among its graduates are the ma- 
jority of the Catholic ladies of the state, as when a boarding-school it was 
the popular educational institution for both Catholic and Protestant young 
ladies. It has now special classes and tuition in every kind of needlework, 
painting, and especially wax-work, in which one of the sisters has equals, 
but not superiors. Though now mainly a teaching order, its principal 
object besides, is to visit the poor and sick in the hospitals and anywhere 
they are called upon to go. There are now eleven houses in the diocese, 
and one hundred and fifty sisters under the direction of Mother Mary 
Bernard Read and the Rev. Mother Thomasina. It wa6 the intention of 
Bishop Hendricken to erect, upon the completion of the new cathedral, 
a new convent for the mother house for $100,000, and two new brick 
parochial schools for the children of the cathedral parish. 

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a French order, came to Provi- 
dence in March, 1881, by the invitation of Bishop Hendricken, from the 
mother house in Brooklyn. They were five in number, and had neither 
money, food, nor shelter, as they depend entirely upon the contributions 
of the public for support. With the assistance of the bishop and other 
generous friends, they found a home in the General James mansion upon 
Slocum Street, and were soon provided with food, furniture, clothing, and 
money. Their object in coming here was to find a home for all aged per- 
sons over sixty years of age of every creed, color, and nationality. Within 
a week the Little Sisters had two aged inmates, and before the end of the 
month the number was increased to twelve. Their mode of supporting 
themselves and their inmates is as follows: every morning two sisters, in 
a covered wagon, which is now a familiar sight in our streets, call at all the 
hotels, restaurants, saloons, markets, and stores, for victuals and food of 
any and every description, which they convert into palatable dishes for 
their inmates, and afterwards for themselves. Two other sisters, taking a 
different portion of the city each morning, solicit contributions of money 
and clothing. This mode is the same at every institution of the kind. 

The greatest benefactor of the institution since its opening has been Mr. 
Joseph Banigan, who, dissatisfied with the building, determined to erect a 
handsome new home at his own expense. The building, which is situated 
upon Main Street,Woodlawn, is the finest institution possessed by the order. 
May 29, 1884, *t wa8 dedicated with imposing ceremonies, which occurred 
in the spacious chapel of the building, and were attended by distinguished 
religious and officials. After the ceremonies, the keys of the building, 
deeds of the land, and insurance policies, to the amount of $80,000, were 
formally presented by Mr. Banigan to the sisters. 

The building, beside the basement, is four stories high, and has every 
improvement and convenience for the requirements of the institution. At 
the opening of the new home there were sixty-four inmates, twenty-four 
men and forty women. Bishop Hendricken then appointed the Rev. W. B. 
Meenan as chaplain of the home, and he has since had charge of the spir. 
itual instruction of the aged inmates and the Catholics in the immediate 
neighborhood. There are now over two hundred inmates in the charge of 
fourteen of the Little Sisters, the Rev. Mother Donatienne Marie, Superior. 



The Academy of the Sacred Heart at Elmhurst, was opened in 
1875, as an educational institution for the children of the higher classes, 
but the order was introduced into the diocese in 1872. The " madames," 
as the members of the order are termed, are either converts to the Catho- 
lic faith, or wealthy Catholic ladies who devote their lives and fortunes to 
the teaching of the higher branches, fine arts, and deportment. They do 
not go out in the world and are never seen in public except when obliged 
to travel from one house to another. The madames first occupied the 
convent on Broadway, now the home of the Ursuline Nuns, until the Gros- 
venor estate at Elmhurst, was secured for them. Under Madame White, 
whose sisters are familiar to the literary world, the institution attained 
a high rank, graduating two well-known young poetesses, resident in Bos- 
ton. There are now twenty-eight madames, under Mother Edwards. The 
Rev. G. Dougherty is chaplain of the institution, and resides in the lodge 
upon the grounds. There is al6o a free school in connection with the 
institution that was dedicated and opened in 1884 for the education of the 
poor children of the immediate neighborhood. 

The Order of the Sisters of Charity was introduced into the 
diocese Aug. 14, 1867, by Bishop McFarland. For two years they resided 
in a small wooden house at 34 Walling Street, during the building of the 
convent which they now occupy, by the Rev. Father Cooney. The house 
was founded by Mother Mary Celestia and five sisters, the mother house 
being the famed Mount St. Vincent, on the Hudson, one of the finest 
convents in the United States, and a remarkable educational institution. 
Sister Celestia remained here in the interest of the order for four years, 
and is now in charge of the Roman Catholic Protectory, near Mount 
St. Vincent. Their mission here has been principally in the Immaculate 
Conception parish, where they have instructed and educated thousands of 
children. They have charge of the parochial day and Sunday Schools, 
and have an academy in the convent building. There are at present nine 
sisters, in charge of Sister Aloysia Gonzaga. The order is mainly a 
teaching order, and is a branch of the Order of Charity, founded by 
Mother Seton through St Vincent de Paul. It is the only convent of the 
order in the diocese. 

The St. Vincent de Paul Society of the city and state is the oldest 
society under the immediate supervision of the church, and is and has 
been of the greatest benefit to the Catholic poor. Its head-quarters are in 
Paris, where it was organized fifty years ago by St. Vincent de Paul to 
relieve the suffering and poor, and is now found in every portion of the 
Catholic world. No record has been kept of its exact introduction into 
the state, but it was probably about 1835. Every church, except St 
Theresa's, which, however, is about to organize one, has its conference, 
that is composed of the young and married men of the congregation, who 
meet weekly. All cases of poverty, sickness, or want, are reported by the 
pastor of the church to the conference, members of whom are delegated 
to investigate the case and afford relief by money, food, clothing, or shel- 
ter, as circumstances may require. In this way 2,749 visits were made last 
year in the city by the society, and $2,756.90 expended for the relief of the 
poor, about $2,500 of which amount were for groceries. Some winters the 
conference support entire families, last year thirty-five being on the roll. 
The amount of good accomplished by the 300 members of the society in 
the city and the aid it is to the overseer of the poor cannot be faithfully 
represented. The funds are obtained by charity sermons, church collections, 
and entertainments of various kinds, a few subscribing members and gen- 
eral subscriptions. The pastor is the spiritual director of each conference, 
assisted by a staff of officers, who form the Particular Council of the city, 
of which John W. Keily is president, John G. Hanrahan, vice-president, 
Thomas F. Keefe, secretary, and John Behan, treasurer. 

It is the intention of the society, as soon as practicable, to erect a large 
brick building, centrally located, for the education, entertainment, and 
recreation of young men. on the plan of the Young Men's Christian Asso- 
ciation. The fund, commenced a few years ago, is gradually increasing. 

St. Mary's Academy, Broadway, both a day and boarding school, is 
conducted by the Ursuline Nuns, a cloistered order, and is the only con- 
vent of the order in the state or diocese. The history of the Ursulines is 
very interesting and forms an important part of the history of Catholicity 
in the United States. The Providence branch is the only one that has 
been formed in the Eastern States since 1834 when the community of Mt. 
St. Benedict was obliged to disperse on account of the burning of their 
convent. Eleven nuns under Mother Rose, came to Providence in August, 
1877, and occupied the building formerly the Convent of the Sacred 
Heart. Under the the present superioress, Mother Gonzaga, there are 
sixteen members who have under their direction, in addition to the board- 
ing and day academy, the parochial school of several hundred scholars, 
and the various sodalities attached to St. Mary's Church. The com- 
munity claim as their mother house, St. Joseph's Ursuline Convent, of 
Morrisania, N. Y. 



Digitized by 



Goo 




Chapter VII. 



DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATIONAL INTERESTS IN PROVIDENCE. 

FIRST SCHOOLS — WILLIAM TURPIN, THE FIRST SCHOOL-MASTER — THE STAMPER'S STREET SCHOOL — PROPRIETORS* SCHOOLS — THE 
WHIPPLE HALL SCHOOL — BROWN UNIVERSITY — THE REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD — PRESIDENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY — 
NICHOLAS BROWN — THE OLDEST SURVIVING PROFESSOR — PUBLIC SCHOOLS ORGANIZED — JOHN HOWLAND — FIRST SCHOOL 
COMMITTEE — ROLL OF TEACHERS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS — EVENING SCHOOLS — REFORM SCHOOL — NORMAL SCHOOL — SCHOOL 
FOR THE DEAF — SCHOOL OF DESIGN — FRIENDS SCHOOL — THE BRYANT & STRATTON BUSINESS COLLEGE — THE BERKELEY 
SCHOOL — OTHER PROMINENT SCHOOLS OF THE CITY. 

the year 1683, and then there was merely an order passed that land 
be set apart for the maintaining of a school. So far as known no 
professional school-master was established in the town until the 
coming of William Turpin, in 1684. He taught, apparently, 
private pupils, either as boarders with him or giving lessons to 
them at their residences, till about the year 1687, when he and 
others joined in erecting a school-house on Stamper's Street, 
where he and others afterwards taught, f 

The action of our ancestors during these two generations, from 
1636 to the end of the century, in apparently neglecting public edu- 
cation, though probably prompted by a high and worthy motive, 
was so far a mistake in that they should have sought to obtain 
and maintain schools without the religious bias that was then 
discernible in all the town schools of Massachusetts and Connec- 
ticut. 

They should have remembered that it was as possible to sep- 
arate the schools from religious despotism as to separate the 
political government from such influences. They did not, how- 
ever, and they suffered the consequences of their error. Private 
household education, however carefully attended to, will never, 
save in exceptional cases, produce as good results on the pupils 
as the bringing them into classes and association with each other. 
Many errors that the teacher is unable to notice and appreciate 
are obliterated by the unconscious attrition of the minds of the 
pupils with each other in this class intercourse. 

Other towns in the state either established schools (in New- 
port as early as 1640), or sent their young men to schools estab- 
lished in neighboring towns. 

The consequence of this course was soon perceptible, — while 
the first generation of the settlers existed, we find Providence and 
its inhabitants exerting a large influence on the colony. Roger 
Williams, Gregory Dexter, and Benedict Arnold, who first settled 
at Providence and afterwards removed to Newport, exercised a 
great influence on the fate of the community ; but after the first 
generation passed away we find no governor of the colony elected 
from Providence till 1727, or a generation after the establish- 
ment of the school above noted, and excepting Governors Jencks 
and Hopkins, not one from Providence was elected till after 
the establishment of Brown University at that place. This is true 
in the same or a greater respect regarding all other prominent offi- 
cers of the state. Thus, of forty-three deputy-governors chosen 
previous to the year 1769, there were but four chosen from Provi- 
dence. Of secretaries of state, not one ; of attorney-generals, 
none till the year 1766. Of general treasurers, none. 

It would seem as if the inhabitants of Providence realized, when 
too late, the results of this neglect of education, and attempted to 
overcome the difficulty by the introduction of a system of schools. 
The first school, as already mentioned, was established in 1687, or 
thereabouts. The next school of which we have any mention 
was established by George Taylor in 1735 in the chamber of the 
Court House on King Street, now Meeting Street, next east of the 

f See page $9. 




E. G. ROBINSON, D. D., LL. D.,* 
President of Brown University. 

Providence was settled mainly by adults. There was little to 
induce one w r ith a family of young children to come to these plan- 
tations but the love of religious freedom, and those few who had 
this feeling sufficiently strong in their minds to induce them to 
bring the younger members of their families here, and also those 
to whom children were born here, preferred to superintend the 
education of those children themselves, rather than to have them 
taught by a town school-master with the possibilities of religious 
bias that such a process might originate. Consequently we find no 
mention or suggestion of a school or the desirableness of one till 

* The Rev. Ezbktbl G. Robinson, D. D., LL. D., now president of Brown University, and 
the successor of Dr. Caswell, was born in Attleboro, Mass., March 33, 1815. After grad- 
uating from Brown in 1S3S with high honors, he took a theological course at the Baptist 
Seminary in Newton, Mass., and was ordained pastor of the Baptist Church in Norfolk, 
Va., in 184a. Three years later he was settled over the Baptist Church in Cambridge, 
Mass., for a year, when he resigned to accept the professorship of Hebrew in the theological 
institution of Covington, Ky. In 1849 he was again settled as pastor of the Ninth Baptist 
Church, Cincinnati, O., but in 1S52 resigned and took the chair of Christian theology in the 
Theological Seminary, Rochester, N. Y., of which he was elected president in i860. In 
1872 Dr. Robinson was elected to his present office at the head of Brown University and 
professor of moral philosophy and metaphysics, which he fills with eminent success. 



Digitized by 



Google 



1 62 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 




JAMES MANNING, D. D.,* 
First President of Brown University. 

Friends Meeting House. This and the previous school located on 
Stamper's Street seem to have been what would be called to-day 
private schools, though established under authority of the town. 
In 1747, or before, a lot opposite the Court House Parade, on the 
west side of North Main Street, was set off for a school-house, 
and the town, in 1752, appointed Nicholas Cook, Joseph Olney, 
Esek Hopkins, Elisha Brown, and John Mawney "to have the 
care of the school-house, and to appoint a master to teach in said 
house." The next year the town appointed as school committee, 
Nicholas Cook, John Mawney, Nicholas Brown, Elijah Tilling- 
hast, and Daniel Abbott, apparently to have charge of the school 
taught in this house. The next year this school-house was leased 
to Stephen Jackson, school-master, for three months from March 
1st. Mr. Jackson probably occupied it till 1763, when the town 
clerk was authorized to lease it again. 

Besides these three schools, about 1751 a school-house had 
been built on the west side, near Broad Street, by Gideon Corn- 
stock, Alexander Frazier, Joseph Potter, and associates. This 
school must have been similar to that on Stamper's Street, and 
belonged to the proprietors thereof, though built by authority of 
the town. After the Court House, in which Mr. Taylor's school 
was located, was burned, in 1758, the town endeavored to obtain 
possession of the lot on which it was built, in lieu of the one on 
the west side of North Main Street, and in 1765 this purpose was 
effected. 

We now come to a period in its history when Providence made 
a determined effort, the first, so far as known, of any town in 
this country, to institute a system of free public education for all 
the children in the town, under the supervision of the school 

* The Rev. James Manning, D. D., first president of Rhode Island College, now 
Brown University, was born at Elizabethtown, N. J., Oct. as, 1738. He was graduated 
from the College of New Jersey in 176a, and in the following year ordained as a minister 
of the Gospel. He was one of the most active leaders in founding Rhode Island.College, 
was the first principal of the University Grammar School, and pastor of the Baptist Church 
in Warren for six years prior to 1770. He was elected president of the college in 1765, and 
while holding the position was pastor of the BapUst Church in Providence for twenty years. 
In 17S6 he represented his state in Congress, was a member of the Providence schoolcom- 
mittee for many years, and died July 39, 1791. 

+ Nicholas Brown, whose liberal benefactions to the insUtution caused the corporation, 
in 1804, to assume the name of Brown University in his honor, was born in Providence, 
April 4, 1769, and was graduated from Rhode Island College in 17S6. He was a success- 
ful merchant. He contributed towards the founding of the Providence Athenxum, and 
left a bequest of $30,000, which led to the establishment of Butler Hospital for the insane; 
but his larger charities were bestowed on the institution in which he was educated, his dif- 
ferent gifts aggregating $160,000. His death occurred Sept. 37, 1S41, and his memory is 
held in grateful regard by all the sons and daughters of his native city. 



committee. On Dec. 8, 1767, they resolved to purchase or build 
three school-houses for small children, and one for the youth of 
the town ; for this purpose John Brown, John Jenckes, Nathaniel 
Greene, Charles Keene, and Samuel Thurber, were appointed a 
committee to select locations for the houses, and to purchase land 
and make contracts for their erection. Darius Sessions, Samuel 
Nightingale, Jabez Bowen, and Moses Brown were appointed to 
prepare an ordinance for the building, supporting, and governing 
of the schools. These committees reported to an adjourned 
meeting, holden on the 1st of January, 1768. We extract from 
the report of the last committee, made in the handwriting of the 
eminent philanthropist, Moses Brown, as follows : 

" The education of youth being a thing of the first importance to every 
society, as thereby the minds of the rising generation are formed to virtue, 
knowledge, and useful literature, and a succession of able and useful men 
are produced with suitable qualifications for serving their country with 
ability and faithfulness; and institutions of this kind are the more useful 
by'how much the more liberal and free the enjoyment of them is — . . . 
it is hereby enacted that four school houses be erected or purchased within 
the compact part of the town . . . one ... on the west side of 
the Great Bridge, at or near the place where the school house at present 
6tands ; one ... at the southerly part of the town on the Back (Bene- 
fit) Street, near Power's Lane ; one ... be built at the northerly part 
of the town in the back (Benefit) Street, near Richard Brown's lot, and that 
one larger one be erected on the lot where the old Court House formerly 
stood." 

The large school-house was to be built of brick, the smaller 
ones of wood. The town was to be at all the expense of building, 
peeping in repair, and heating said houses, to provide school- 
masters, and furnish instruction freely to the children of every 
inhabitant of the town. The instruction was to be in " reading, 
accenting, pronouncing, and properly understanding the English 
tongue, writing, arithmetic, the various branches of mathematics, 
and the learned languages. 




NICHOLAS BROWN, + 
Merchant, Philanthropist, and Benefactor of Brown University, for whom the College was named. 



Digitized by 



Google 



THE PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS. 



.6j 




BROWN UNIVERSITY, PROVIDENCE. 



It was unfortunate for the town that this liberal and wise sys- 
tem could not be adopted — but the town at large was not yet 
fully awake to the importance of popular education. The account 
of its reception and fate, in the words of Moses Brown, is as 
follows : 

" 1768. Laid before the Town by the Committee, but a number of the 
inhabitants (and what is most surprising and remarkable, the plan of a 
Free School, supported by a tax, was rejected by the poorer sort of the 
people,) being strangely led away not to see their own as well as the public 
interest therein, (by a few objectors at first), either because they were 
not the projectors, or had not public spirit to execute so laudable a design, 
and which was first voted by the town with great freedom. M. B." 

Mr. Brown's criticism on the "poorer sort" of the people 
seems to demand some explanation. As that expression would 
be now understood the criticism was hardly justifiable. The 
poorer sort of the people were not landholders and under the 
restricted suffrage of those days could not vote. Again, when in 
the close of the century, the free school system was introduced 
into Providence, the " poorer class," especially the mechanics, 
were mainly instrumental in bringing about the state of public 
opinion that demanded it. It is scarcely probable that one gen- 
eration only separated two such marked qualities of the " poorer 
class." It seems to be a fact that the wealthiest and most intelli- 
gent class in Providence were in favor of free schools and free 
instruction for all, but that there were a large number — a major- 
ity of the voters — of the less wealthy, and who to Moses Brown 
might seem, by comparison, the "poorer class," who were op- 
posed to it ; or perhaps, for, like John Gilpin, Moses Brown was 
a witty man, he may have used the expression " poorer " to de- 
note quality and not wealth. However that may be, the reports 
of these committees were rejected, thus repealing the action of 
Dec. 8, 1767. The town, as a compromise, resolved to build one 
brick school-house, on Meeting Street, to be paid for, in part, 
out of die proceeds of the school-house lot on North Main Street, 



opposite the Court House Parade, which was sold in 1765. This 
house was to be paid for, in part, also, by a tax of JE100, and 
£182 17s., to be raised by private subscription. This subscrip- 
tion was not met, and on the 1st of February it was voted to 
build this house, so far as the town's money would go, if individ- 
ual proprietors would finish the house and keep it in repair, the 
town to have the use of the lower story for a free school, and the 
proprietors the upper story for a proprietors' school. This ar- 
rangement was finally consummated, and in the course of the 
ensuing summer the building now standing on the lot, was erected. 
This building has ever since been occupied by the town and city 
for educational purposes, and is the oldest building now in the city 
used for such purposes. From this time forth the town frequently 
appointed masters to keep school in their part of this house, and 
passed rules for the government of both the schools, public and 
proprietary, kept in it, and the private schools kept in other houses 
in the town. 

The need of a school in the northern part of the town was felt, 
and the Stampers Street school having been given up and the 
title thereto vested in the proprietors, a new proprietary school 
was started in the north part of the town, called the Whipple 
Hall school-house, on a portion of the land now occupied by the 
old first ward school-house. This school was instituted and did 
good work previous to the Revolutionary War. 

From this time till after the Revolutionary War but little was 
done in regard to the public schools. The times were not auspi- 
cious for such action. The attention of the people was entirely 
given to warlike action. 

After one hundred years of comparative insignificance in the 
affairs of the colony, which may be traced to the want of educa- 
tion in the northern part of the colony, many of the citizens had 
arisen to a sense of their failings